Jun 1, 2020

Managing Arthritis During the Summer

Life with arthritis is certainly a struggle, but it’s crucial to find ways to reduce symptoms and keep living life.

One way you can help to manage your symptoms is by understanding how things outside of your control can exacerbate arthritis pain. Once you understand it, take the proper action to protect yourself. For many people, arthritis symptoms seem to get worse in the summer months, and there’s a good reason for that.

Keep reading to learn more about arthritis pain in the hot summer months and what you can do to help alleviate it.

Summer and arthritis explained.

If your arthritis seems to flare up in summer, you’re not alone, and you can blame the heat and humidity. The hotter it is outside, the more your body will be susceptible to swelling. The more prone to swelling you are, the more pain you will have.

Research shows that barometric pressure can also have some impact. The pressure changes outside can cause your joints to be more sensitive to pain. When the pressure changes, your joints will often feel tighter and stiff, creating a vicious cycle of swelling and pain.

If you live in coastal North Carolina, there is no avoiding the heat and humidity, so the best thing you can do it educate and protect yourself.

Hydration is key.

There are some studies that suggest changes in temperature will change the fluid in your body, reducing lubrication of your joints and increasing pain and inflammation. In addition to the heat depleting these fluids, being dehydrated, which often happens during the summer, is also a contributor to joint pain.

It is important to stay extra hydrated during the summer for these reasons, water helps keep cartilage soft and hydrated, and it promotes healthy blood volume, which allows nutrients to move through your blood and into your joints.

Be sure to monitor your water intake and ensure you are eating plenty of healthy fruits and veggies throughout your day. Some water-rich fruits and vegetables include:

  • Watermelon
  • Cucumbers
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Oranges
  • Celery

Stay protected.

A common side-effect of many arthritis treatment medications is increased sensitivity to light. The most common forms of medicine associated with light sensitivity are non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs. So, if you’re using these medications, it’s important to take extra precautions when being exposed to the sun and heat. Stock up on sunscreen, wear glasses, and hats to keep yourself healthy and feeling great!

Dress comfortably.

Apparel isn’t quite as evident as some of the other aspects of the season because it doesn’t have a direct effect on arthritis symptoms. However, because a substantial portion of summer is spent outdoors, uncomfortable clothing can contribute to, or diminish, arthritis pain.

The best item of clothing to focus on for a day spent outdoors are shoes. Make sure they are lightweight and comfortable to prevent putting extra stress on the ankle and toe joints. Make sure your choice of footwear provides even support and comfort without putting undue stress on your joints.

Customize your activity.

Different activities put stress on joints in different ways; that’s why it is key to implement specific exercise plans that won’t over-stress particular areas, specifically where muscle flare-ups are frequent.

Timing can also be a factor. For example, many people with arthritis experience fatigue later in the day. If this is the case, planning morning or early afternoon exercises can help with overcoming arthritis pain while allowing the body plenty of time to rest in the evening.

Understanding your limitations and accepting them can be the difference between a healthy, enjoyable summer day and a miserable joint flare-up spent in bed. It’s necessary to have confidence in your abilities, but also to keep your activities within safe boundaries.

Consult your physician.

When it comes to exercise, a physician can help with determining if certain activities are a healthy choice in the summer months. They can also help you with a more low-impact version of what may otherwise be a risky endeavor.

If the heat and humidity decrease your quality of life, it’s imperative to make an appointment with your rheumatologist right away. Your doctor’s goal is to improve your quality of life and being stuck inside all summer or dealing with flare-ups while trying to push through is no way to live. You and your doctor should work together as a team to figure out the best course of action for improving your life.

At Carolina Arthritis, we have four expert physicians who are all sympathetic, educated, and skilled. If you are considering consulting a rheumatologist, contact Carolina Arthritis Associates today.

We are fully committed to offering you the highest level of care and meeting all your needs. Together we will explore your options and determine a treatment plan for the summertime — and all year long!