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  • Writer's pictureTatiana Phillips

The Heat is On: How to Ease Arthritis in Warm Weather

A little boy wearing a blue tee shirt who is pointing out his missing tooth.

As the temperatures rise here in Florida, many of us welcome the arrival of warm weather. However, for the millions living with arthritis, the heat of summer can bring added challenges. For many of us living in rural communities, arthritis is not just a condition; it's a daily reality that the elements can exacerbate.

Arthritis, a condition characterized by inflammation and joint stiffness, affects people of all ages and backgrounds. However, managing arthritis can be particularly challenging for those living in rural areas, where access to healthcare and resources may be limited. With the summer months approaching, it's crucial to understand how warm weather can impact arthritis and what steps you can take to ease your symptoms.

Rural Communities and Arthritis

Despite the advantages of living in Florida, such as good weather most of the year, rural communities like ours are more susceptible to developing health issues. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration reports that residents of these communities are more likely to develop hypertension, arthritis, and diabetes than their urban counterparts. Rural communities are more susceptible to developing arthritis due to lifestyle factors such as obesity, transportation disparities, and a higher number of manual laborers. All three factors play a role in the health of our joints.

Understanding Arthritis and Heat Sensitivity

While heat may ease arthritis pain, humidity, which Florida is notorious for, may worsen arthritis than if you lived in a dryer climate. Humidity, wind speed, and air pressure all affect the pain levels. Temperature, however, tends to worsen symptoms when it is cold outside. High humidity, such as what Floridians experience, causes the inflammation associated with arthritis and can sometimes worsen symptoms. 

Understanding that you may be at a higher risk for developing arthritis or that your arthritis is made worse by the humidity in Florida, what can you do to help your symptoms?

Tips for Easing Arthritis in Warm Weather

Stay Hydrated: Hydration is vital for flushing toxins out of your body, which can help fight inflammation. Adequate water intake can help keep your joints well-lubricated.

  • Protect Your Skin: Not only can protecting your skin help you from developing skin cancer, but it is also essential for some arthritis patients because of the medications they are on. Some medications given to patients with rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis cause light sensitivities. 

  • Exercise Wisely: Low-impact exercises, such as water exercises and yoga, that can help maintain joint flexibility and strength without overheating are recommended.

  • Healthy Eating: Maintaining a diet rich in whole fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and low in processed and saturated fats is essential. One of the most effective foods for easing inflammation caused by arthritis is fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, tuna, striped bass, and anchovies.

Arthritis Resources and Support for Rural Communities

While medical assistance may be a challenge for our community due to transportation disparities, providers in the area, and awareness of support, there are resources available to help individuals living with arthritis. One of the most significant ways to connect with others living with arthritis in Hardee and DeSoto Counties is through virtual meet-ups from the arthritis community.

Additionally, speak with your provider about support groups and specific exercise classes for arthritis patients, and consider starting your own support group. If there is a disparity in the support you want in your community, then it is an opportunity to spearhead support that others in your area may be interested in.

Arthritis pain may come and go as the weather changes, but rural communities such as ours have options to help ease the pain. Your arthritis symptoms can improve through diet, exercise, sun protection, and hydration. Being proactive about arthritis in the humidity and building a support network in our community can help you and others around you.

Contact our trained Community Health Workers today if you want to connect with additional resources and support!

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