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How the Winter Affects Arthritis
If you believe you experience severe arthritis pain in cold weather, you’re not alone. Research has found that arthritis pain occurs more frequently in the winter.1
According to the Arthritis Foundation, the colder weather can play a role in your arthritis and the pain you feel. Here are some scientific reasons why your arthritis might worsen in the winter, as well as some tips you can try to reduce your pain.2
Does Cold Weather Affect Arthritis?
The cold can cause your blood circulation to slow, which can lead to frequent muscle spasms. This can cause your body to be more sensitive to pain, which can exacerbate arthritis pain.
Additionally, your joints can detect changes in the amount of pressure in the atmosphere. As a result, your joints will swell, causing you to feel pressure and pain.3
Studies have shown that the cold weather can affect your body whether you have inflammatory or non-inflammatory arthritis.4
How to Reduce Winter-Induced Arthritis Pain
Luckily, there are steps you can take to fight the arthritis pain caused by the cold weather.
Keeping your joints warm is one of the best ways to reduce the arthritis pain you feel in the cold weather. Layer up your clothes in the winter time with base layers, coats, gloves, and thick socks, especially if you’re spending time outdoors.
Eat a healthy diet
Well-balanced meals are beneficial for many reasons, but it has been scientifically proven that your diet can have an effect on arthritis. Eating good sources of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals can keep you healthy and reduce arthritis pain.5
Decreasing your sodium or salt intake can reduce inflammation in the body and reduce arthritis pain. Eating foods rich in vitamin D, such as oranges and salmon, is proven to help those who have inflammatory arthritis.6
Exercise is extremely important, especially for those who experience arthritis pain. Regular physical activity can increase your body’s strength and flexibility while reducing the pain caused by arthritis. You don’t need an entire workout routine: exercises as simple as stretching can help increase your body’s blood flow and reduce stiffness.7
Sticking to a workout routine in the winter can be difficult, but you can find options such as a gym membership or classes that will keep you active all season long. Check out our list of some low impact exercises that can help keep you moving. If you’re wondering what exercises are safest for your particular case, or if you experience pain when working out, talk with your doctor.8
Compression works by squeezing the joints to increase blood flow. Compression can also trap heat, which can help your joints stay warm. There are products specifically designed for compression, such as socks or gloves.4
Many health clinics and physical therapists offer compression therapy if you want a more intense compression treatment with the help of registered nurses or physical therapy professionals.
Limit sugar intake
Did you know sugar may cause your arthritis pain to worsen? Eating an excess amount of sugar can cause your body to produce more cytokines, which are inflammatory proteins that can be harmful to the body if there’s more than needed.9
If you have arthritis, you already have an increased number of cytokines, and having additional inflammation can cause your joint pain to worsen. Some products with excess sugar that you should be mindful of include sodas, desserts, candy, and processed juices.
Getting enough rest at night is crucial for many reasons, including arthritis management. Poor sleep patterns can increase inflammation throughout the body, which can lead to joint pain.10
Because arthritis pain can affect your sleep quality, it’s important to stick to a nighttime routine that can aid you in getting a good night’s sleep. Some of our tips for getting better sleep at night include going to bed at the same every night, avoiding caffeine before bed, and avoiding looking at electronics at least 30 minutes before bed.11
Learn More Today
If you or a loved one suffer from arthritis, we encourage you to try some of these tips to reduce your pain in the winter. If arthritis affects your daily activities, check with a medical professional to create a plan to reduce pain in a way that is best for you.
Here at Saber Healthcare, our physical therapy departments utilize our exclusive Progressive Approach to Home (PATH) program to customize treatment plans for each individual. Our physical therapists help residents regain strength and mobility, while working to decrease pain levels.
Saber Healthcare is an organization that provides services to more than 115 buildings across the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana, Delaware, and Florida. To learn more about our company and services, click here.
Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long-term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.
- “Why does my arthritis get worse in the winter?” Chris Bailey Orthopaedics, chrisbaileyorthopaedics.com. February 21st, 2022. Accessed January 23rd, 2023. https://www.chrisbaileyorthopaedics.com/blog/why-does-arthritis-get-worse-winter/#:~:text=Statistically%2C%20it%20does%20seem%20that,when%20temperatures%20dropped%20below%20average.
- Wilson, Gregory. “Does Winter Weather Increase Arthritis Pain?” Mount Nittany Health, mountnittany.org. November 11th, 2022. Accessed January 24th, 2023. https://www.mountnittany.org/wellness-article/does-winter-weather-increase-arthritis-pain#:~:text=Winter%20weather%20is%20often%20to,according%20to%20the%20Arthritis%20Foundation.
- Paturel, Amy. “Why is Arthritis Worse in the Winter?” Cedars-Sinai, cedars-sinai.org. January 11th, 2022. Accessed January 23rd, 2023. https://www.cedars-sinai.org/blog/arthritis-worse-in-winter-winter.html.
- “Tips for Dealing with Arthritis Pain in Winter.” Integris, integrisok.com. December 20th, 2019. Accessed January 24th, 2023. https://integrisok.com/resources/on-your-health/2019/december/tips-for-dealing-with-arthritis-pain-in-winter.
- “How Does Cold Weather Affect Arthritis?” Cano Health, canohealth.com. April 13th, 2021. Accessed January 24th, 2023. https://canohealth.com/news/blog/how-does-cold-weather-affect-arthritis/.
- Barhum, Lana. “Does Cold Weather Affect Arthritis?” Dotdash Media, verywellhealth.com. August 9th, 2022. Accessed January 24th, 2023. https://www.verywellhealth.com/does-cold-weather-affect-arthritis-6271472.
- Repinski, Karyn. “Getting Through Winter with Arthritis: 8 Tips to Ease Joint Pain and Stay Safe.” Global Healthy Living Foundation, creakyjoints.org. January 4th, 2019. Accessed January 24th, 2023. https://creakyjoints.org/living-with-arthritis/coping-with-arthritis-in-winter/.
- “Low-impact Exercises for Older Adults.” Saber Healthcare Group, saberhealth.com. November 4th, 2021. Accessed January 30th, 2023. https://www.saberhealth.com/news/blog/low-impact-exercises.
- Spriggs, Brenda. “What to know about sugar and arthritis.” Healthline Media, Medical News Today. July 22nd, 2021. Accessed January 24th, 2023. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/why-you-should-avoid-sugar-with-arthritis#:~:text=Eating%20excess%20sugar%20causes%20the,can%20make%20them%20feel%20worse.
- “Sleep and Pain.” Arthritis Foundation, arthritis.org. Accessed January 24th, 2023. https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/managing-pain/fatigue-sleep/sleep-and-pain#:~:text=Many%20people%20blame%20their%20restless,may%20become%20disabled%20or%20depressed.
- “Tired? 6 Ways to Get More Rest at Night.” Saber Healthcare Group, saberhealth.com. November 22nd, 2020. Accessed January 30th, 2023. https://www.saberhealth.com/news/blog/get-better-sleep.