Osteopathy for arthritis pain relief

General health, Osteopathy

It’s well known that weather affects the joint pain and stiffness experienced by arthritis sufferers. Most of us assume that joint pain worsens just on cool, damp days. But for those with chronic conditions, it can be the long hot days of summer that cause joint pain to worsen. This is particularly the case for people with arthritis or fibromyalgia. Our osteopath Claire Forrester explains why this happens, how osteopathy for arthritis helps manage pain. She shares some tips to support you to stay mobile and enjoy the hot weather.  

Types of Arthritis

The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.  

  • Osteoarthritis is caused by wear and tear on the joints over time, often affecting the hands, knees, hips, and spine. 
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system attacks the joints, leading to inflammation and joint damage. 

In either case, inflamed joints can become stiff and painful, making it difficult to move. And in some cases, arthritis can cause swelling, redness, and warmth in the affected joints.  

Hot Weather and Arthritis 

Many people with arthritis say that they can predict the weather based on how their joints feel.  Muscles, bones and tendons lengthen and shorten in response to atmospheric changes, and while some notice their pain and stiffness flares up in the cold and wet winter months, others find hot and humid summer weather can make symptoms worse. 

In one study of older people with osteoarthritis, almost 5% of those studied reported a flare-up of joint pain in hot weather. And according to VeryWellHealth 

“It’s common for people with osteoarthritis or inflammatory arthritis (for example, rheumatoid arthritis) to link weather with their pain.”  

Why does hot weather aggravate your arthritis?

  1. Inflammation: Heat can cause blood vessels to dilate, increasing blood flow to the affected area and exacerbating inflammation. 
  1. Dehydration: Hot weather can lead to dehydration, which can cause joint pain and stiffness. Good levels of hydration are essential for the creation of synovial fluid, which nourishes and protects our joints and reduces friction. Water is also crucial for your cartilage, making up between 65-80% of this tissue. Cartilage supports your bones to move smoothly over each other.  
  1. Sweating: Excessive sweating can cause a loss of essential minerals, such as magnesium, which can contribute to muscle cramps and discomfort. 
  1. Barometric pressure changes: Rapid changes in air pressure can cause joint pain, especially in individuals with arthritis. It’s still unclear as to how exactly barometric pressure affects joint pain. It’s possible that as well as the expansion and contraction of connective tissue in hot weather, extreme hot weather may impact the pressure of the fluid that lubricates your joints.

Managing Arthritis in Hot Weather

Fortunately, there are a range of steps you can take to manage arthritis symptoms during hot weather. 

Stay Hydrated – Drinking plenty of water helps keep your body hydrated, which can reduce inflammation in the joints. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water per day, and try to avoid sugary or alcoholic drinks, which can dehydrate the body. 

Stay Cool – Try to stay in cool/air-conditioned environments as much as possible.  

If you don’t have air conditioning at home, consider visiting public places that are air-conditioned, such as libraries, or community centres.  You can also use fans to circulate air in your home. 

Exercise – Although it may be tempting to avoid exercise when you’re experiencing arthritis pain, gentle exercise can help reduce inflammation and pain.  Swimming or water aerobics can be particularly helpful in hot weather, as they can provide relief from the heat while also providing low-impact exercise for the joints. 

Wear Light Clothing – Choose lightweight, loose-fitting clothing made from breathable fabrics such as cotton or linen. This can help keep you cool and reduce sweating, which can exacerbate arthritis symptoms. 

How osteopaths help you to manage arthritis

At The Form Practice, our osteopathic approach focuses on addressing the underlying issues that contribute to arthritis pain and discomfort during hot weather. I can help address the symptoms by providing manual therapy to improve joint mobility and reduce muscle tension, posture correction to maintain flexibility along with advising on exercise and lifestyle changes to help manage the symptoms. 

Manual Therapy 

Manual therapy, such as soft tissue massage, joint mobilisation, and stretching can help reduce inflammation and improve joint mobility. I use gentle, hands-on techniques to manipulate the muscles and joints, helping to relieve pain and stiffness.  

Manual therapy can also help improve circulation, reduce muscle tension, and promote relaxation. 

Posture Correction 

Poor posture can put undue stress on the joints, exacerbating arthritis symptoms. I can help correct posture problems, which can help reduce pain and improve joint mobility.  I may recommend specific exercises, stretches, or postural changes to maintain joint flexibility and prevent muscle imbalances and help alleviate your symptoms.  

Reducing Inflammation 

Manual lymphatic drainage is a gentle massage technique that helps to stimulate the lymphatic system, reducing inflammation and promoting the removal of waste products from the body. 

Exercise Prescription 

I can provide an exercise prescription that’s tailored to your individual needs and abilities. This can help reduce inflammation, improve joint mobility, and strengthen the muscles that support the joints.  I will provide guidance on which exercises are safe and effective for your condition, and help you develop an exercise programme that you can perform at home. 

Don’t suffer in silence!

I understand that each person’s experience with arthritis is unique. I work closely with you to create a personalised treatment plan that addresses your specific needs and helps you manage your symptoms during hot weather. 

Arthritis can be challenging to live with, especially during extremes of cold or hot weather.  At our Cambridgeshire clinic, our professional and personal approach aims to provide relief and support to those living with the condition. If you’re experiencing arthritis issues in hot weather, don’t hesitate to contact me to see how my osteopathic care can help manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.