Warm weather, beach days and sunshine—this is the essence of summer. While summer can be a season of relaxation and fun for most, the heat and humidity can be problematic if you are one of the millions of Americans who suffers from arthritis and the pain that it causes. According to the Arthritis Foundation, changes in temperature and barometric pressure have an impact on the joint pressure and can trigger joint pain. For those who suffer from arthritis and chronic joint pain, the summer months can feel unbearable.
By following a few simple steps, you have the power to feel at ease despite arthritis pain.
An Apple A Day
While the heat of summer can bring about achy joints, a proper diet plays an integral role in helping to alleviate this pain. An excess of salt, sugar and caffeine in the diet can trigger and worsen the discomforts that come along with arthritis. Instead of picking up that second burger or hot dog at the barbecue, try going for a fruit salad or vegetable mix instead. Strawberries, watermelon, cherries, tomatoes, and onions all have nutrients and antioxidants that aid in fighting inflammation—they taste great, too.
Moderate exercise paired with a proper diet can be extremely helpful in relieving joint pain. However, during warm summer days it’s especially important to be mindful of when and how you are exercising. On particularly hot or humid days, work out indoors or plan to get outside in the mornings or evenings, when it’s cooler. A short walk can help with warming up the joints; just make sure you’re on a smooth surface to avoid falls. Also, taking a dip in the pool or practicing tai chi can help maintain flexibility and fluidity of movement. Don’t forget to do a few light stretches before or after any activity to prevent injuries.
Fun in the Sun
High summer temperatures can accompany some not-so-enjoyable joint pain and skin reactions. As the seasons change, the difference in barometric pressure and temperature can trigger inflammation within the joints and cause severe discomfort. If taking medications, make sure to lather on sunscreen, as many of these medications cause photo-sensitivity that can cause rashes, joint pain or fatigue. Doctors recommend applying at least a tablespoon of sunscreen for the face and neck, and about a half-glass full for other body parts exposed to the sun. Don’t forget to reapply as needed. Hydration is also key.
Meeting with your doctor on a regular basis and following your doctor’s instructions is vital when creating a regimen to help manage the pains of arthritis. Don’t hesitate to ask questions pertaining to medications and other treatments.
With these simple tips and tricks, those who suffer from arthritis can be better prepared to persevere this summer. Heat and humidity can be a nuisance, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying the season.
Jennifer Leeflang is an registered nurse and senior vice president at Partners in Care, an affiliate of The Visiting Nurse Service of New York. VNSNY is the largest nonprofit home- and community-based health care agency in the United States, providing private care services. Visit www.partnersincareny.org or call 888-735-8913 for more information.