Arthritis is a common disease that affects over 46 million people, or one in five adults. They are many different types, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid and juvenile arthritis. The main symptoms include pain, stiffness in the joints, fatigue, and swelling. The disease can make everyday tasks painful or nearly impossible. Though arthritis can be controlled through a number of different treatments and medications, the climate where the arthritis sufferer lives can also impact the disease.
Arthritis can affect many parts of the body including internal organs and skin, but the most common area is the joints. The disease usually begins by affecting smaller joints such as finger joints, wrists, and knees, though any joint in the body can be affected. Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease, which means the immune system begins to attack healthy joints, causing inflammation. This inflammation leads to pain, swelling, and possibly permanent joint damage. Other types of arthritis include osteoarthritis, a joint degenerative disease and the most common form, juvenile arthritis, which affects children.
Arthritis is mostly controlled through the use of medication such as Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, which help control inflammation and pain. Other treatments include light to moderate exercise and physical therapy.
Climate Effects on Arthritis
The place in which a person with arthritis lives may affect their day to day pain and fatigue. According to a study conducted by Johns Hopkins Medicine in Argentina and Florida, sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis were affected by high humidity and high barometric pressure. Those with osteoarthritis were affected only by high humidity. The study concluded that those living in warm, dry climates had fewer flare ups of the disease, but the actual course the disease was not affected by climate. One reason a warm climate is helpful is because the person does not have to deal with snow and ice, which can make it difficult to get around. Cold weather may also make the joints feel more stiff.
Another benefit of living in a warm climate is that it is easier to remain active in consistently nice weather. This allows for more exercise, which may strengthen joints and decrease pain.
Beneficial Climates for Arthritis
Climates that are warm and dry for the most of the year may be ideal for arthritis sufferers. States in the southwestern United States like Arizona or New Mexico are hot and dry for the most of the year, and may help alleviate pain, fatigue, and swollen joints. Other people with arthritis prefer warm climates like Florida. The most important factor in choosing a place to live is whether it is a good fit for your lifestyle. According to the Arthritis Foundation, the stress of moving away from loved ones in favor of a different climate may cause stress that actually increases pain and fatigue. When choosing a new climate, it is also important to spend a lot of time in the new area in every season so you will know what to expect.