Coping with Arthritis
QUESTION: My arthritis is worse in cold-weather months. How should I manage this?
Baptist Health La Grange
“Many people experience a worsening of arthritis symptoms in cold, wet months during the fall and winter,” shared Jeremy Statton, MD, who is with Baptist Northeast Orthopedics, part of Baptist Health La Grange. “The arthritis itself isn’t worse but the pain associated with arthritis is often more intense.
Dr. Statton offers the following tips in managing arthritis:
- Stay warm.
- Keeping affected joints warm at night can help ease morning pain.
- Consider a heating pad or over-the-counter heat packs.
- During the day, remember to stretch frequently.
- Stay active.
Less day light and low temperatures tend to keep people indoors. Not exercising causes joints to become more stiff and for muscle to atrophy. It is important to keep moving. Develop an indoor exercise routine or enroll in an indoor aquatic exercise class. Classes for all fitness levels are offered at the Baptist Health Milestone/Wellness Center and the YMCA.
Consider nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) or supplements. Some do not need NSAIDS in the summer, but may choose to take them daily in the winter. Supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate have shown to effectively decrease symptoms caused by arthritis.
“Before starting a new exercise plan, or taking a new supplement, be sure to discuss with your physician to ensure your safety,” adds Dr. Statton. If you or a loved one is in need of orthopedic services, contact Dr. Statton’s office at 502.222.0598. More information and a full list of Baptist Health physicians are also available by visiting BaptistHealthKy.com.
Dr. Jeremy Stratton
Baptist Health LaGrange
1025 New Moody Lane
LaGrange, Ky 40031
Kort First Physical Therapy
It is very common in the cold-weather months for people with arthritis to report stiffness and soreness in the affected joints. There is conflicting evidence to support worsening of symptoms in the cold, even though almost all arthritis sufferers complain of this.
Some studies theorize that the drop in air pressure, which often accompanies cold, rainy weather, allows tissues in the body to expand to fill the space. This means that tissue that is already inflamed can swell even more, leading to more pain. Other studies clearly state there is no link between weather conditions and changes in joint pressure or swelling.
Often times in winter months, people are less active, which causes the joints to stiffen up and become more painful. Additionally, if you aren’t as active, the muscles surrounding the arthritic joints can become weak as well, leading to more pressure being put on the joint.
In order to keep your arthritis under control during the cold winter months, it is important to keep moving. Movement helps increase the lubrication in those joints and without movement, the joints become stagnant and stiff. So if it is cold outside, try to take your activity inside where the temperatures are more amenable. Warm water walking or exercise is also a great way to get moving. Being in the water helps reduce the impact on your joints and the warm water can help lessen the stiffness.
It is important to strengthen the muscles around the joints as well. You can start with gentle exercises where you are placing little to no pressure through the joint and progressively work up to standing/walking exercises as tolerated.
A licensed Physical Therapist can help guide you in creating an exercise program specifically tailored to your needs. KORT Crestwood Physical Therapy provides care for patients with arthritis and can be reached at (502) 241-5597 to set up a consultation.
Kort First Physical Therapy
6003 Pleasant Colony Court, Suite 3
Crestwood, Ky 40014