Influence of Seasonal Changes on Osteoarthritis
Research reveals weather can worsen symptoms and increase pain for those with rheumatic diseases. One study reported over 75% of the participating rheumatic patients believed their pain was in some way influenced by various weather conditions. The temperature and atmospheric pressure on arthritis can cause expansion and contraction of the tendons, muscles, bones, and scar tissue. As a result, people with musculoskeletal conditions can experience inflammation, stiffness, and heightened pain perception.
What Weather Conditions Impact Arthritis?
A study conducted in Japan investigated how arthritis symptoms are affected by seasonal change, finding 63% of patients recognizing moderate and high disease activity during spring and winter. It appears that the susceptibility of deterioration for those with arthritis during the colder months is due to a higher chance of muscle spasm and a decrease in blood circulation. Another study determined that patients’ pain became severe when humidity suddenly increased, air temperature sharply decreased, and during misty and rainy conditions.
Vitamin D deficiency during the cold months could be a contributing factor in the development of seasonal symptoms. To absorb vitamin D naturally, our skin must be exposed to sunlight. This is easy for people to achieve during the warmer months of summer and fall when the sky stays light for longer and we tend to spend more time outdoors. Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium, which is essential for strengthening bones. It also aids immune functioning and can alleviate inflammation. Osteoarthritis Initiative researchers have found that supplementing vitamin D was associated with significantly lower chances of joint structure degeneration for patients with osteoarthritis.
How to Manage Arthritis Seasonally
When it comes to finding ways to intervene in the effects of seasonal changes and meteorological factors for arthritis, it is always best to seek advice from a healthcare professional like an arthritis self-management program coach such as MyArthritisRx. Below are a few ways you can look after yourself during the cooler months to reduce flare risk and disease progression.
- Enhances the immune system
- Helps manage blood sugar levels
- Aids concentration and memory
- Facilitates hormone regulation
- Reduces risk of diseases including the flu, cancer, and depression
Aside from getting regular sunlight on your skin (always wear sun protection), you can also absorb vitamin D through foods like salmon, mushrooms, dairy and soy milk, oranges, pork, and eggs.
- Wear Weather Appropriate Clothing
Keep your body warm during the cold months and layer breathable, comfortable, and cosy clothing like long socks, gloves, beanies, pants, sweaters, and coats. This way, you avoid the impact of temperature and atmospheric pressure on your joints.
- Keep Physically Active
On cold or rainy days, it can be difficult finding the motivation to exercise. However, self-management of your osteoarthritis includes consistent exercise to strengthen your joint areas and prevent inflammation and stiffness. Walking around your home or using a stationary bike or treadmill are great ways to keep cosy indoors and avoid the harsh weather. If you want to get some fresh air though, wearing loose-fitting weather-appropriate attire when venturing outside for a walk or bicycle ride will enable you to feel comfortable while getting your daily dose of mobility.
- Consider a Personalized Self-Management Program
Self-management programs such as the MyArthritis 6-week plan provides patients with effective and simple home care for arthritis. Getting one-on-one support from a dedicated arthritis coach means you can get your questions answered by professionals, allowing you to take control of your arthritis and get the most out of your life.