As we ease into the cooler fall season, those of us with arthritis are accustomed to occasional flare-ups and increased joint pain as the temperature falls. But that’s not the only surprising link between this common joint condition — it affects 1 in 4 Americans and 1 in 2 adults over the age of 50 — and the changing seasons, our diets, our lifestyles, and our immune systems. The more you know about how your joint health is affected by numerous other factors, the more you can do to boost your health, reduce joint pain, and prevent arthritis flare-ups. These arthritis tips will get you started.
Arthritis and the Weather: Is the Link Fact or Fiction?
The link between weather and arthritis has been a topic of interest and debate for many years. Some people with arthritis claim that their symptoms worsen in certain weather conditions, while others do not notice any significant impact. Scientific research on this topic has yielded mixed results, and the relationship between weather and arthritis remains a subject of ongoing studies.
Despite numerous anecdotal accounts, scientific studies have not provided clear and consistent evidence to support a direct link between specific weather conditions and arthritis symptoms. Some studies have found associations between weather factors like temperature, humidity, and atmospheric pressure and arthritis symptoms, while others have found no significant correlation.
That may be because there are numerous factors at play.
Arthritis is not a single condition but a term that encompasses a range of diseases that affect the joints, with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis being the most common. Different types of arthritis may respond differently to weather changes, if at all. Additionally, individual responses to weather can vary widely.
There may also be some personal bias when it comes to the psychological factors, too. People’s perception of how weather affects their arthritis can play a role. If someone expects that cold and damp weather will worsen their symptoms, they may be more likely to notice and report increased pain and discomfort during such conditions.
But if you do find that the cooler fall season brings on more joint stiffness and pain, several arthritis tips can help.
Arthritis Tips For Weather-Related Flare-Ups
If you find your joints are feeling a bit more ache-y this month, try these arthritis tips for the fall season!
1. Keep Warm
Dress in layers to trap warmth and prevent your body from getting too cold. You may also want to wear thermal or heated clothing to maintain a comfortable body temperature, especially when you’re outdoors. Some people find that using heating pads or heated blankets to warm specific areas with joint pain works well, especially if a specific joint is especially ache-y.
And if you often wake up with cold, stiff joints, use electric blankets or heated mattress pads to maintain warmth while sleeping, as nighttime can be a time when joint pain worsens.
2. Stay Active
Engage in regular, gentle exercise to keep your joints mobile and reduce stiffness. Activities like swimming, walking, or yoga can be beneficial. For those with arthritis, it’s especially important to warm up before exercise with gentle stretches or range-of-motion exercises.
3. Heat Your Joints Topically
Over-the-counter creams and ointments containing ingredients like capsaicin, menthol, or may provide temporary relief when applied to the affected joints.
Arthritis and Your Immune System
Recent news related to the COVID spike in America highlights some of the surprising links between your immune system’s health and your joint health. According to a groundbreaking study, people who treated their arthritis with Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors were more susceptible to infections like COVID because those inhibitors weakened their immune system. The researchers suggest that this is because the arthritis medication weakened the individuals’ immune system.
The link between arthritis and the immune system is central to understanding the underlying causes of various forms of arthritis. While there are different types of arthritis, two of the most common are rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA), and both have distinct relationships with the immune system.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA):
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means that it occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own tissues, particularly the synovium, a membrane that lines the joints.
In RA, the immune system targets the synovium, leading to chronic inflammation and damage to the joint. This inflammation results in the release of cytokines, which are chemical messengers that further promote inflammation and joint destruction.
Autoantibodies, such as rheumatoid factor and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) antibodies, are often present in the blood of people with RA. These antibodies are produced by the immune system and can contribute to the inflammatory process.
The exact cause of RA is not fully understood, but genetics and environmental factors are thought to play a role in its development. Certain genes related to the immune system, such as the HLA-DRB1 gene, are associated with an increased risk of RA.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease and differs from RA in that it is not primarily an autoimmune disorder. Instead, OA is characterized by the breakdown of cartilage, the protective tissue that covers the ends of bones in the joint.
While OA is not considered an autoimmune disease, inflammation can still play a role in its development and progression. Low-grade inflammation in the joint may contribute to cartilage damage and pain in OA.
The immune system may become involved in OA as the disease progresses, with immune cells and cytokines playing a role in the inflammatory processes within the joint.
In summary, the immune system is intimately linked to arthritis, but the nature of this relationship varies depending on the type of arthritis. Understanding these immune system interactions is crucial for developing effective treatments and interventions for individuals with arthritis. Treatment approaches often involve medications that modulate the immune response in RA and a combination of therapies aimed at reducing inflammation and promoting joint health in OA.
Arthritis Tips For Your Immune System
Balancing your immune system is essential for maintaining overall health and well-being. A well-balanced immune system is neither overactive (leading to arthritis flare-ups and even autoimmune diseases or allergies) nor underactive (making you susceptible to infections, as the COVID study pointed out). While you cannot control all aspects of your immune system, there are several lifestyle practices and habits that can help support immune system balance.
1. Eat a Nutrient-Rich Diet
Consume a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. These foods provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support immune function.
2. Manage Stress
Chronic stress can weaken the immune system. Practice stress management techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or mindfulness to help reduce stress levels.
3. Get Adequate Sleep
Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Sleep is crucial for immune system repair and regulation.
4. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Excess body weight can lead to chronic inflammation, which can affect immune balance.
5. Consider Dietary Supplements
Some vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc, play important roles in immune function. If you have deficiencies, your doctor may recommend supplements. However, you also don’t want to overdo it — in some cases, taking too many supplements can trigger your immune system’s response and lead to that inflammation that is an underlying factor in arthritis.
Instead, consider supporting your body’s natural immune system balance with BioPro-Plus 500. BioPro-Plus 500 is the 100% natural immune system supplement, which has no known side-effects or contraindications. This drug-free supplement is not a medication, but an aid to restore your body’s own natural immune response.
6. Limit Exposure to Toxins
Reduce exposure to environmental toxins, pollutants, and chemicals. These can both harm the immune system, and/or trigger an immune response. Either scenario causes an imbalance in your immune system.
Maintaining a balanced immune system is an ongoing process that involves various aspects of your lifestyle and overall health. Adopt a holistic approach, such as all-natural supplements like BioPro-Plus 500, and prioritize long-term habits that support immune system balance rather than seeking quick fixes or expensive medications.