Did you know that 1 in 7 Australians live with arthritis! That’s a considerable number of people that are affected by their joints, and often on a daily basis. Arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation and pain in the joints. As you may already know, the pain associated with arthritis can be quite debilitating, and it can significantly affect a person’s quality of life. There are several types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and gout. They are categorised into degenerative arthritis (which is osteoarthritis or OA), with the other group being inflammatory arthritis (which includes, rheumatoid (RA), gout, psoriatic arthritis). But just a note here on osteoarthritis, it does include inflammation when the joints become more severely affected but the underlying cause is degeneration rather than inflammation.
The management of arthritis pain typically involves a combination of medication, lifestyle changes, and physical therapy. Some common medications used to treat arthritis pain include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), analgesics (paracetemol), and corticosteroids. Additionally, lifestyle changes such as weight loss, regular exercise, and a healthy diet can help alleviate arthritis pain.
There are a number of things that can aggravate arthritis including activities such as gardening, sports, and even walking. But what about temperature? What is it about the cold weather that seems to bring about arthritis pain. In clinic it is common we hear this as a trigger so it’s a great topic to cover and provide you some advice and guidance on.
Arthritis pain can be exacerbated during cold weather for a few reasons. When the weather is cold, the barometric pressure drops, which can cause the tissues in your joints to expand. What this does is leads to increased pressure and pain. another consideration is that cold weather can cause your muscles and joints to become more stiff and less flexible, making them more prone to injury and pain.
If you or someone you know is putting up with arthritis pain, then it is important to know that many sufferers can get relief. Many of our clients get told at some time that it’s aging and you just have to put up with it. Fortunately this is not the case for many people and in fact, relief.
Although we cannot fix the joint changes that cause the arthritis, we may be able to relax the muscles of the joint and improve the movement in the joint, making it feel looser, lighter and less painful. This approach is how we have helped many clients suffering from OA.
Arthritis pain can be particularly uncomfortable when it’s cold, as cold weather can cause joints to stiffen and become more painful. Here are some tips that may help relieve arthritis pain during cold weather:
Keep warm: Dress in layers and wear warm clothing to keep your body temperature up. This can help to prevent your joints from becoming stiff and painful. You could also use stretchy joint supports to stop the cool air hitting the skin, or just to add an extra layer to a specific area.
Use heat therapy: Apply heat to the affected joints using a heating pad, warm towel, or a warm water bottle. This can help to increase blood flow to the area and reduce stiffness. For longer lasting heat, stick-on heat patches can be a great option and convenient especially if you are out for the day.
Stay active: Exercise can help to keep your joints mobile and reduce pain. Choose low-impact activities, such as swimming or walking, to avoid putting too much pressure on your joints.
Take pain relief medication: Over-the-counter pain medications, such as NSAIDS or analgesics, can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
Try complementary therapies: Acupuncture, massage, and osteopathic treatment may help to relieve arthritis pain when used in conjunction with other treatments.
Use joint-friendly tools: Consider using joint-friendly tools, such as jar openers or long-handled shoe horns, to reduce the strain on your joints when performing daily tasks.
Alongside our osteopathic manual therapy we often recommend heat application, gentle stretches and other aids to reduce the pain. The important thing to know is that not all arthritis is a lost cause and there are lots of strategies to try!
Our Osteopaths may be able to relieve the symptoms of your arthritis and provide you with self-management strategies so your day-to-day is more manageable.