How Does the Weather Affect Mom’s Arthritis?

Dear Dr. Gaines:

I was diagnosed with Osteoarthritis two years ago. I’ve been trying to find ways to manage it since then. It seems like I will be fine one day and then in pain the next.

My doctor prescribed a medication to help relieve the pain, but it is really hard on my stomach. One thing I’ve noticed is that weather impacts how good or bad I feel.

I would like to find a few natural treatment methods that help so I don’t have to resort to prescription medication.

Do you have any suggestions I can try?

Carl

Natural Remedies for Treating Arthritis

Dear Carl:

Arthritis can be a big pain for adults! According to the CDC, arthritis is the leading cause of disability. Medications can offer relief but, as you experienced, anti-inflammatories can create uncomfortable side effects.

There are some natural remedies you can try that may help you better manage the pain and symptoms of your arthritis.

Here are a few to consider:

  • Exercise: Our natural instinct when a joint is swollen and causing us pain is to rest. Research shows, however, that muscle-building exercises help to support damaged joints. The Arthritis Foundation recommends combining aerobic exercise with range-of-motion and flexibility exercises. Yoga, Pilates and Tai-Chi can all help reduce swelling, decrease pain and improve mobility.

  • Lose Weight: Studies have shown that being overweight has serious impact on arthritic joints. The impact on your knees is equivalent to 1-1/2 times your bodyweight. So carrying twenty extra pounds around with you puts thirty extra pounds of pressure on your knees.

  • Inflammation-Fighting Foods: Processed foods and a diet high in sugar can increase inflammation throughout the body making arthritis symptoms worse. Opt for fruits, vegetables and whole grains instead. The Arthritis Foundation also has a list of foods you can add to your diet to help fight arthritis inflammation.

  • Alternate Heat and Cold Therapy: You can also use a combination of hot and cold therapies to help manage symptoms. Cold packs can help to reduce swelling, while heat can help relieve pain.

One final reminder is that if you haven’t been very active in recent months, talk with your primary care physician before beginning an exercise program.

I hope these suggestions bring you relief, Carl!

Dr. Gaines