By: Dr. Neeraj Adkar Director & Orthopaedic Surgeon Saishree Hospital for Special Surgery
Winter is considered the healthiest of seasons and rightfully so. In a country like India with a hot climate for the majority of the year, winter is definitely the most beautiful season. Though this true for the majority of us, a patient suffering from arthritis may not agree.
It is known that symptoms of arthritis worsen during the cold season. Though this is not universal, sensitive patients do suffer from increased disease activity and worsening of their symptoms in winter. Seasonal variations are more profound in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Unlike degenerative arthritis which is common in the elderly population, rheumatoid arthritis can occur in younger age groups.
The increase in disease activity can be marked by the appearance of or increase in the symptoms like:-
- Easy fatigability
The reason for increased disease activity in certain season is not clearly known; however, few theories have been mentioned. Some of them are:
- Drop-in atmospheric pressure (PHYSICS) – Cold temperature leads to a drop in atmospheric pressure which can cause the tissue to swell. The muscle and tendons are swollen leading to more pressure on joint, hence pain.
- Nerves are more sensitive to pain during winter.
- As muscles are swollen, they can go into spasm leading to pain and stiffness.
- Circulation is decreased in cold environment typically in hands and feet worsening pain in rheumatoid patients.
- Activity improves symptoms in arthritis. Patients tend to be less active and to stay in-doors in cold temperature. Also, sunlight is less easily available, which is the source for Vitamin D production in the body. This leads to weak bones and muscles and increased pain.
How to prevent:-
There are a few precautions we can take to make life easy for sensitive patients.
- Wear soft and warm clothing.
- Take proper healthy and wholesome nutritious diet.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Exercise regularly.
- Vitamin D supplements as per doctors order.
- Medications for pain management. Doses may need adjustment, especially in rheumatoid patients.
Take necessary precautions, consult your doctor when necessary and enjoy the winter.