Does Winter Affect Arthritis Sufferers?

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Does your aging relative complain more about arthritis pain during the winter? If so, they are not alone. Studies have shown that 67 percent of people with osteoarthritis say that the weather influences their pain. But, what causes pain to worsen with cold or damp weather, and what can you do about it?

How the Weather Affects Joints

Weather can affect arthritic joints in a couple of ways. First, colder weather can cause people to change their normal routines. They may not get as much exercise as they do when they can get outside and go for walks. Since exercise is essential to good joint health, a reduction in exercise could make pain worse.

Weather may also affect joints because of a change in barometric pressure. Scientists believe that when pressure changes, it makes tissues expand and contract, including tendons, muscles, and scar tissue. Cold weather can also cause the fluid in joints to get thicker, which may make movement more painful.

Managing Joint Pain in the Winter

Although you may not be able to completely eliminate weather-induced arthritis pain, there are some steps you can take to help your senior family member reduce their pain, such as:

  • Warm Clothing: Put extra layers over joints that hurt. If the senior’s hands are affected, they should wear warm gloves. When knees are affected, tights or thermal underwear can help. It’s better to put on extra layers that the older adult can take off than to wear too few and be cold and achy.
  • Exercise Indoors: When walking outdoors isn’t an option, find a way for seniors to exercise inside. For example, go to the mall and walk there. Or, look for a senior fitness class at the local gym or at a yoga studio. You could even put on some music and dance around in the living room.
  • Warm Water: A warm bath can help soothe painful joints. Another option is to take the senior to the local indoor pool where they can get some exercise while also enjoying the warm water.

Home care can also help seniors through the cold winter months when their joints are achy. A home care provider can run a warm bath and help the senior get safely in and out of it. A home care provider can also drive the older adult to an indoor exercise class. And, on days when it’s warm enough to get some fresh air, a home care provider can make sure your aging relative is dressed appropriately for the weather.


If you or an aging loved one are considering home health care in Dulles, VA, please contact the caring staff at Assisting Hands today. (703) 982-0050.