If you have arthritis, you’re probably painfully aware that cold weather seems to make your joints hurt more and/or more often. Is there anything you can do to relieve the pain in the cold and wet winter months we get here in The Woodlands?

Why Are You More Achy When It’s Cold and/or Wet?

Research from Tufts University suggests that changes in barometric pressure made joint pain worse in people with arthritis. Barometric pressure is the weight of the atmosphere that surrounds us.  Changes in the pressure can affect joints and there’s often a big dip in the barometric pressure right before bad weather arrives.

The study also found that colder temperatures also cause joint fluid to become thicker, which makes it more painful to flex or bend the joint.

Tips for Reducing Joint Pain

1) Exercise

If the joints aren’t being moved, probably because it’s cold or rainy outside, they become harder to move over time which is painful.  Sticking to a regular exercise plan will keep the joints from becoming overly stiff. Move it indoors during the winter months. Staying warmer also helps reduce some of the joint pain.  A low-impact routine might work well, but ask your doctor about what kinds of exercises are best for you.

2) Your Diet Matters

Load up on foods rich in:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids. Think salmon and nuts to curb inflammation.
  • Vitamin K. Make meals that feature greens, such as spinach, kale, and cabbage, for their pain-soothing properties.
  • Vitamin C. Add color to your diet with juicy oranges, sweet red peppers and tomatoes, and other C-rich foods to halt cartilage loss (and resulting pain) that comes with arthritis.

Avoid foods high in omega-6 fatty acids, such as corn oil, which may trigger painful inflammation. Also swap refined grains for whole grains. Early research suggests refined grains have an inflammatory effect, whereas high-fiber whole grains may help reduce inflammation.

3) Over the Counter Medicines

We encourage you to continue with your exercise and diet plan, but sometimes it’s not enough. A topical treatment with capsaicin as the active ingredient can be rubbed into the sore joint areas. Anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuoprofen or naproxen can also temporarily relieve pain as well. Be sure to follow label directions so that you do not overdose.  If the pain is constant or overwhelming, be sure to contact your physician for other options.