Storms Affect Arthritis

How does weather affect pain levels?  Many people say that they can tell when a storm is coming on because their arthritis flares up. Studies show that a 10 degree drop in temperature creates a commensurate increase in pain levels. A drop in barometric pressure makes people more physically uncomfortable. When it rains or humidity levels are high people also experience more pain. Arthritis can feel worse around the time a storm is brewing because factors that disturb the weather outside also increase inflammation in your body. Cold constricts already damaged joint surfaces causing more friction, humidity causes more swelling of already swollen areas and decreased barometric pressure irritates joints and muscles.

Arthritis is defined as painful inflammation and stiffness of the joints. A rheumatic condition, arthritis is associated with many things:  heredity and genetics, viruses, wear and tear, diet, immune system function, and stress. Joints affected may be widespread or limited to specific areas such as the hands, hips, feet, or back. Blood test markers such as ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate) or CRP (C reactive protein) to measure inflammation will be elevated in arthritis. While stormy weather may make you want to stay in bed and eat comfort food, this may not be the best approach to reduce pain and inflammation.

When pain intrudes it is important to remember to move your body to reduce stagnation of systems that heal you. Prepare in advance to include a bit of movement in your daily plan on stormy days. This can include walking around the house, attending to chores, or venturing outside if weather permits. Movement will mobilize tissues, detoxify, and warm the body.

If cold worsens pain, try to stay warm. Wear warm clothes and socks and shoes in cold environments. If you can get to one, an infrared sauna can be very healing. A warm Epsom salt bath can deep heat your muscles, joints, and bones to reduce arthritis pain. Warmth will reduce cold in the body and help to detoxify.

When the weather is bad, eating well can improve your mood and mental state and reduce pain. To reduce inflammation, try to eat more naturally occurring fruits and vegetables which will provide you with lots of fiber and vitamin C and A to heal your joints and reduce swelling. Drink warm tea to reduce inflammation and warm the interior.  Increase the consumption of healthy proteins and fats, especially Omega 3 rich fish and flax oil to help improve the inflammation fighting Omega3:Omega 6 ratio.

As always, it is a good idea to drink adequate water throughout the day. Drink water rather than sodas, fruit juices, or alcohol to keep arthritis pain levels down. Especially avoid artificially sweetened beverages using aspartame as these increase inflammation in the body. Stevia is a better choice for non-sugar sweetener.

Chiropractic adjustments to the spine and extremities can help reduce pain and inflammation and acupuncture treatments to the meridians and channels of the body are supportive therapies if you need additional help. These healing treatments can keep arthritis flare ups at bay for the long run.

While preparing for stormy weather keep these tips in mind to help you survive any weather related event. Arthritis may help you predict an oncoming storm, but it doesn’t have to incapacitate you.

 

Summer humidity affects us all

As summer approaches, humidity rises especially here in the south. For many people, high humidity makes it harder to breathe, to cool off, and to feel energetic. It is easy to get dehydrated when the humidity is high in the summer because body temperature is higher. Also, a person’s anxiety level can rise, and heart attack risks increase with high levels of humidity.

From the perspective of Chinese medicine, high humidity affects the body as dampness. Many illnesses are associated with dampness: fibromyalgia, a feeling of  heaviness and bloating, nodular masses, sore joints, dizziness, and other conditions.

When summer’s high humidity is here, we turn on the AC. We depend on air conditioning to not only cool off the air, but to also reduce the water level in the air. If we don’t have AC, we open windows or turn on fans to move air, reduce stagnation, and improve our bodies’ ability to evaporate sweat to cool us.

Certain herbal remedies and dietary changes can resolve dampness.  Herbs such as mint, fennel seed, coriander, saffron, dill, and small amounts of cumin or cardamom can be added to cooked dishes or tea to promote cooling and reduce the overheating effects of high humidity. Drinking adequate cool water and electrolyte rich beverages can reduce the risk of dehydration as well as cool the body.

Moderate exercise and yoga postures can help to improve movement of the organs, reducing stagnation, and improve elimination.

As humidity levels rise, take care of at-risk folks and yourself. If you feel high humidity levels negatively affect you, be sure to ask your healthcare provider for help.

 

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