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Does Cold Weather Affect Arthritis?

Summit foot and ankle surgeon Tracy Rupke, M.D., shares some key tips for avoiding arthritis pain in cold weather.

There’s a chill in the air and snow on the ground. It’s winter in Minnesota, and for people suffering from arthritis pain, it’s often the worst time of year. According to Summit Orthopedics foot and ankle surgeon Tracy Rupke, M.D., the relationship between arthritis and cold weather is not all in our heads.

“Weather does affect our bodies, generally speaking,” Dr. Rupke said. “There are some studies in particular that show that patients who have osteoarthritis pain tend to have more arthritis pain with cold weather and low barometric pressure.”

What can you do to break the grip of arthritis and cold weather?

So, is there anything we can do to minimize arthritis pain when the mercury dips? “We don’t have control over barometric changes, but we can control the temperature inside,” Dr. Rupke said. “That can help minimize joint pain in cold weather.” She offers several tips for people who experience arthritis pain in cold weather.

Stay warm inside – When you’re indoors, add a couple of degrees to the thermostat or put another log on the fire. Warmer indoor temperatures can help soothe arthritis aches.

Stay warm outside – When you’re outside, bundle up. “Make sure to wear adequate clothing to keep yourself warm and protect those joints,” Dr. Rupke said. If you’ll be outside for a while, investing in items like heated vests, heated socks, and hand warmers may be helpful.

Shortening an arthritis flare-up during cold weather

To shorten a flare-up, make sure heat is part of your conservative care measures. “Ibuprofen tends to be effective as an anti-inflammatory, but it can have side effects. Before loading up on ibuprofen for an arthritis flare-up, make sure you talk with your doctor,” Dr. Rupke said.

A better option than medication, according to Dr. Rupke, is to manage the temperature. “Keeping your temperature warm can soothe your joints and be remarkably effective in managing arthritis pain and stiffness in cold weather,” Dr. Rupke said.

When it comes to cold weather and joint pain, Dr. Rupke has one more piece of advice. “Be extra cautious when you’re headed outside, so you don’t slip and fall on the ice.”

Arthritis doesn’t have to spell the end of an active life. If you are experiencing worrisome symptoms or persistent pain, the renowned arthritis specialists at Summit Orthopedics can help. We work with you to confirm a diagnosis and develop an appropriate conservative treatment plan. If nonsurgical treatments fail to support your lifestyle goals, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons will consult with you and discuss appropriate surgical options. Summit is home to innovative joint replacement options. Our Vadnais Heights Surgery Center is one of a select few nationally to receive The Joint Commission’s Advanced Certification for Total Hip and Total Knee Replacement.

Start your journey to healthier joints. Find your arthritis expert, schedule an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a consultation.

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