Arthritis & Summer Heat

Summer Heat can make arthritis pain worse.

Arthritis is a very common disease that affects millions of Americans. Arthritis refers to a variety of joint diseases or joint pain – according to the Arthritis Foundation there are more than 100 types.

There are a few different categories of arthritis: degenerative, inflammatory, infectious and metabolic. To diagnose what category of arthritis a person has, a doctor can perform blood tests and imaging scans. An arthritis specialist will become involved depending on the type of arthritis and the acuteness of the diagnosis. The results of the initial tests also determine if other healthcare specialists need to become involved in the care plan for the arthritis. Orthopedic surgeons, dermatologists and even dentists can be part of the care team depending on the severity and type of arthritis.

The most familiar symptoms of arthritis are pain and swelling in the joints of the hands, feet, knees, elbows, shoulders and hips. The symptoms are not always present and can range in severity from mild to severely debilitating, depending on the person's overall health and their family history. The changing weather patterns can also have an effect on the severity of arthritis. Cold weather brings its own side effects, as does the summer heat.

Why Hot Weather Makes Arthritis Worse

The summer heat can make arthritis even more unbearable than normal. This is because our joints contain sensory nerves that respond to the changing weather. These nerves are continuously responding to the variances in temperature and humidity.

Think about how a wooden door frame swells when the temperature is high – the wood becomes swollen and it can be difficult to open and close. This is how the sensory nerves respond. The level of fluid in arthritic joints rises in higher temperatures, resulting in swollen, inflamed muscles, tendons and ligaments. When these expand due to the higher temperatures, the stress and resulting pain on arthritic joints can be more painful than usual.

Drink More Water

Paying attention to hydration in the summer is nothing new. The risk of dehydration is greater in the summer because of the higher temperatures and the more rapid loss of fluids due to sweating.If you suffer from arthritis, staying hydrated is even more vital to keeping pain at bay. Because the joint cartilage in our bodies has such a high water content, if that water is depleted, the chances of additional joint pain is increased.

Stay Cool

Persons with chronic pain conditions like arthritis already have difficulty regulating their systems. Extreme changes in barometric pressure and high temperatures can cause joint pain to skyrocket due to the additional strain of trying to stay regulated. It's critical to stay indoors when the mercury climbs so you can better control your body's temperature.

Exercise and Eat Right

Diet and exercise are key components to the treatment of the inflammation and pain caused by arthritis. Physical activity to keep your weight at a healthy level and the consumption of anti-inflammatory foods can help control inflammation and pain in persons with arthritis. Foods that fall into this category include:

Fruits and Veggies: Go for really green, really leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli and kale. On the list of fruits to enjoy: cherries, blackberries and strawberries are packed with immune-boosting antioxidants. Even onions are known for their antioxidant properties.

Fish: Salmon and tuna are known to reduce two inflammatory proteins in the body.

Fiber: foods full of fiber can reduce inflammation by lowering the C-reactive protein. A good way to get more fiber is by eating beans, which contain an impressive amount of antioxidant properties as well as lots of needed minerals.

Things to avoid include processed foods – pre-packaged cookies, chips and snacks. These unhealthy fats are linked to inflammation and not good for your waistline, either! Also watch your sodium intake (many pre-packed meals are loaded with sodium) in order to keep your blood pressure in a happy place.

Therapy plans at The Villas Senior Care Community can provide relief and keep seniors from becoming sedentary. A sedentary lifestyle can exacerbate chronic pain, so participate in activities and other events that keep you moving. Ask the management team about planned activities meant to keep residents active and moving, as well as the Villas Total Rehab therapy team about a therapy regimen specific to treating arthritis. Learn more by visiting our website today.

Dog Days of Summer: Activities for Seniors
Springfield Clinic Associates at The Villas

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Monday, August 26, 2019

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