Arthritis is a complicated disease to define and explain, as it is an umbrella term to define over 100 different types of joint pain and inflammation.
Arthritis can affect people of all ages. In fact, the Arthritis Foundation states that it affects over 50 million adults and 300,000 children have one of the several forms of arthritis. Although children can suffer from arthritis, it is most common in adults and worsens with age.
What is Arthritis?
The two most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative arthritis, is when the cartilage in bones start to break down, whereas rheumatoid arthritis, commonly known as inflammatory arthritis, directly impacts the lining of a person’s joints and is an autoimmune disease. Although osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two most common forms, they are not the only types of the disease. There are over 100 forms of arthritis, but other forms of arthritis include infectious arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and metabolic arthritis.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Arthritis?
Unlike other diseases, arthritis is a tricky condition to diagnose someone with. General signs and symptoms of arthritis can include: joint stiffness, joint swelling or joint pain. However, it is important to note that each individual with arthritis will experience a different form of symptoms, at a different level of intensity. Symptoms can come and go and be mild to severe, depending on the type of arthritis and the individual’s lifestyle. The only way to be given a concrete diagnosis of arthritis is by visiting a medical professional for an exam or test.
It is important to note that any sort of persistent or abnormal joint stiffness, swelling or pain should be reported to a medical professional immediately. People often feel as though joint stiffness, pain or swelling is just a temporary thing and is nothing to worry about, missing their opportunity to address their concerns with their doctor and manage their pain in a healthy way. Abnormal pain should always be brought to the attention of a medical professional, despite the age of the individual experiencing symptoms.
Does Colder Weather Actually Impact Arthritis?
It is an old wives’ tale that individuals with arthritis can feel cold or rainy weather coming because they will have increased stiffness, pain or inflammation in their joints. Scientists however have weighed in that this may not be all make-believe! After extensive research scientists can confidently say that there is a direct correlation between barometric pressure and arthritis pain. As barometric pressure decreases, the body responds by expanding its tissue, which results in increased pain, stiffness and inflammation of the joints. This explains why individuals that already problems with their joints have feel as though their conditions worsen in the winter time.
During the winter months, individuals with arthritis can help combat joint stiffness and pain by dressing warmly and trying to prevent the body from losing too much heat, especially while outdoors. Some tactics individuals with arthritis might consider during the winter months include:
- Wearing gloves over the hands and socks on the feet
- Layering loose and comfortable clothing, especially while going outside into the cold weather
- Stay active by exercising inside and in warm exercise gear
- Wearing a scarf to protect the neck
- Wearing a hat, particularly a warm beanie to protect oneself from the cold weather
In addition to the aforementioned tips and tricks, individuals with arthritis may choose to retreat to a warmer climate during the winter months. By retreating to a warmer climate, individuals with arthritis can continue to live their life with their regular routine, without fear of the in-climate weather being a problem. Risk factors of developing worsening symptoms of arthritis includes spending time outside in unprotected clothing or simply failing to cover the body to its fullest ability.
Can Home Care Help Those with Arthritis?
For individuals with arthritis, daily tasks may become impossible or painful to accomplish, especially during the winter months. In-home care gives individuals the opportunity to have a caregiver in their home to help with their daily tasks such as medication reminders, meal preparation, light housekeeping, personal care or companionship. As their joints continue to suffer and swell throughout the winter, a caregiver can help them live a happy, healthy and a positive quality of life! Cold weather joint pain can be a thing of the past with the help of a professional caregiver. Joint stiffness, pain or swelling should not keep someone from living their life to the fullest, but with the help of a caregiver, a happy life is possible!