Why does it seem Arthritis gets worse during cold weather?
Updated: Nov 22, 2022
We all know living in Minnesota can be a wonderful! Where else can you find 10,000 plus lakes to get the best walleyes? The Great North Shore, where our Lake Superior mimics the appearance of a ocean, or the great colors of our seasonal fall festivals of our fall. With all Minnesota has to offer, we know our winters can be pretty brutal too! Our bodies seem to never adjust to the weather no matter how long we live here. Us, Minnesotans, seem to start wearing our shoulders as a set of earrings trying to layer as much as we can to brave the colder darker months ahead. We began to feel every ache and pain during Minnesota winters and we always seem to know when the next storm is going to happen before the Meteorologist can predict. The brisk cold air just send shivers down our spine just thinking about it. BURR!
This is why I want to talk about Arthritis and the increase flare ups we see as massage therapist during the colder months. What is arthritis? Lets break it down. Arthritis is a combination of two words "arthro" and "itis"; Arthro is the medical word for joint and itis is the medical word for inflammation/swelling. There are many different types of arthritis that exist which comes with different causes when it comes to the wear and tear on the body. Much of our environment can play a factor of how our body response to its elements.
Science has still not come up with one reason as to why to does cold weather affects arthritis pain. However, there is a possible explanation; barometric pressure. Barometric pressure often occurs when a cold front is moving in, which in return can cause the joints to expand resulting in pain. Lowered temperatures increases the thickness of the synovial fluid that a aid in a joint's shock absorber, which in returns to make the joint more stiff and sensitive to pain. There even has been a connection to arthritis and cold weather along with high humidity which reflect the connection was at it strongest peak to arthritis suffering individuals.
Now, the question is what how do we get rid of arthritis? Unfortunately, you can not prevent arthritis, but you can decrease the amount of pain it may affect you and your daily routine. One of the main things we can do during our Minnesota winters, is layer up! Dressing for our climate will significantly decrease the outside exposure directly on our bodies. Increasing your Vitamin D intake during the winter months can always bring down the inflammation. Individuals should try to aim for 600 IU a day (800 IU if you’re over age 70). Obviously, you want to maintain a good healthy diet as well as good exercise. Lastly, receiving a great White Mountain Massage can significantly help decrease the inflammation by providing aid to the musculoskeletal system.