Tag Archives: Cold Weather

True or False: Changes in the Weather Can Make Your Joints Stiff or Achy

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For many people, the flare-up of an arthritic knee or shoulder appears to signal a change in the weather—usually hinting that a storm is imminent.

The belief that achy joints accompany a weather change is so widespread, in fact, that it has just about been accepted as reality. Many doctors listen to patients complain that they experience stiff or aching joints before, during, or after changes in temperature, barometric pressure, or humidity.

Yet, in spite of the widespread belief in a connection between aches and pains and inclement weather, medical researchers have come up with little evidence to support it.

Evidence for the Health Claim
Changes in the weather such as barometric pressure, humidity, and temperature could theoretically affect the synovial fluid that lines and lubricates the joints if, for example, they had a chemical effect on the fluid which somehow increased inflammation (which causes pain). However, there is no conclusive evidence that supports this theory.

Since at least the mid-1800s, a number of medical, and so-called bio-meteorologic research studies have been carried out in an effort to establish a connection between health and changing weather conditions.

The results of these studies have been varied. Based primarily on a compilation of patient anecdotes (reports of arthritis sufferers, for instance), increased barometric pressure (in fair weather conditions) has been associated with increased joint pain. Conversely, others studies have shown a relationship between increased joint pain and decreased barometric pressure (in stormier weather). Still other studies have suggested that changing weather conditions can cause immediate pain in some patients and delayed pain in others.

weather changes

Evidence Against the Health Claim

It is important to note that because most studies on this subject have been based on anecdotal reports rather than carefully designed observational studies, their conclusions don’t constitute reliable scientific evidence. Furthermore, many doctors claim that the wide variety of arthritic conditions and sheer complexity of atmospheric variability makes coming up with meaningful connections between joint pain and weather conditions next to impossible.

There is also a psychological aspect to this belief. What are the chances that the connection between health and the weather is simply coincidental? Is it possible that arthritis sufferers link their stiff and achy joints to changes in the weather as a way of explaining an otherwise mysterious exacerbation of their condition? Some doctors suggest that patients who observe weather conditions when they experience pain may pay little or no attention to the weather when they don’t have any pain.

Furthermore, there is no definitive evidence that moving to a warmer or drier climate provides a cure for aching joints. Some doctors report that many patients claim that the pain disappears for a while, only to return a few months later.

by Rhianon Davies

REFERENCES:
Aches and Pains Index. UK Weather Channel Interactive Web site. Available at http://uk.weather.com/activities/health/achesandpains/achesandpainsindex.html. Accessed July 25, 2006.

Cold Weather Can Cause More Aches and Pains for Arthritis Sufferers. Marshall University Orthopaedics Web site. Available at http://musom.marshall.edu/medctr/orthopaedics/cold weather.asp. Accessed July 25, 2006

Shmerling RH. Whether Weather Matters For Arthritis. Available at http://www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtIH/8799/9273/35323/341624.html?d=dmtHMSContent. Accessed July 25, 2006.

Weather and Joint Pain. Any Connection? Mayo Clinic Web site. Available at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/joint-pain/AN00102. Accessed July 25, 2006.

Weather and Our Physical Health. BBC News Web site. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/weatherwise/living/effects/. Accessed July 25, 2006.

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

PT News

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This Month in PT News. Featuring articles from PTandMe partnering clinics!

2. Don’t Let Your Asthma Freeze You Out of Winter Workouts
Written by the Therapy Team at the Jackson Clinics – Northern Virginia

Avoiding asthma attacks while exercising in winter is best accomplished by preventing cold, dry air from getting into your bronchial airways. One way to do this is to exercise indoors when it is cold. Read more

3. Living Our Mission Statement: Being a Catalyst of Change In 2018
Written by Colleen Norris, Partner/Practice Administrator – Overland Park, KS

I have been in healthcare for almost 40 years and the changes that have occurred over that time have been tremendous. I’ve seen everything from patient care innovations, new payment methodologies, advancing technology, improved workflow processes, and my personal favorite… a focus on outcome data. Read more

work related stress

Work Related Stress & Increased Risk Zones: Part 2 of 2

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THE SOLUTIONS

• Alternate Heavy Tasks with Light Tasks

• Develop Lifting, Carrying and Push / Pull Guidelines within limits and set up Lift Teams if necessary

• Provide variety in jobs to eliminate or reduce repetition (i.e., overuse of the same muscle groups)

• Adjust work schedules, work pace, or work practices

• Provide recovery time (e.g., short rest breaks)

• Modify work practices so that workers perform work within their power zone (i.e., above the knees, below the shoulders, and close to the body)

• Modify work environment to minimize work related stress (e.g., seating, lighting, workstation, process flow, angle of access to loads)

• Rotate workers through jobs that use different muscles, body parts, or postures (Administrative improvements, such as job rotation, can help reduce workers’ exposures to risk factors by limiting the amount of time workers spend on “problem jobs.”)

• Provide hands-on practice when new tools, equipment, or procedures are introduced to the workforce (review counter balancing of tools and take advantage of gravity flow in product movement)

• Use several types of visual aids (e.g., pictures, charts, videos of actual tasks in your workplace and the “right way to perform tasks”)

• Hold small-group discussions and problem-solving sessions

• Give workers ample opportunity for questions
• Industrial Athlete directed Exercises and Stretches (make them specific to those areas under most stress perform at beginning of day, when leaving for lunch and end of day)

• Ensure proper protective equipment (PPE) is available and used properly

• Research ergonomic assistive aids to accommodate heavier load lifting and movement

• Review packaging of items and research if handles or alternative coupling can be incorporated

• Review exposure to heat and cold extremes and take necessary precautions

• Minimize exposure to vibration (this can be done through tool selection, gloves, or limiting your time of exposure)

• Posture (change or modify your body position periodically throughout the day to relieve stress)

Part one of our Work Related Stress & Increased Risk Zones can be found here

Sources:
1) American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA)
2) Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES)
3) National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH)

winter safety tips

Winter Safety Tips for Children

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winter safety tips for Children PTandMe
When the temperature drops and snow is on the ground, your children can still benefit from some outdoor physical activity. All it takes is a little extra planning to stay safe.

Layer Up!
Infants and children lose heat more quickly due to their size. As a result, they are more likely to suffer from low body temperature, also known as hypothermia. Dressing in layers is a good way to provide your child with added warmth during the winter months. Your child should wear 1 more layer than an adult would wear. Choose fabrics that wick moisture to help pull sweat away from your child’s skin and keep them warm.

Here are some other winter stafety tips to help keep your child safe in the cold:
• Mittens are warmer, but gloves allow your child to use their fingers more. Consider having your child wear mittens over a pair of light gloves.
• Keep your child’s feet warm and dry with 2 pairs of socks.
• Avoid long scarves and drawstrings or ties, which could become a choking hazard. Consider neck warmers or turtleneck garments.
• Choose hats and hoods that do not obstruct your child’s vision.
• Keep a dry set of clothing at school in the event your child’s clothes become wet.

Winter Sport Safety
Winter safety tips for sports such as skiing, skating, snowboarding, and sledding require adult supervision and added safety measures. To help keep your child safe:
• Make sure your child wears a helmet and other protective gear such as wrist guards for snowboarding and a mouth guard for ice hockey.
• Teach your child to be aware of and avoid hazards when sledding such as cars, trees, and ponds.
• Do not allow your child to skate on surfaces until you are sure the water is frozen solid.
• Do not allow your child to wear headphones while playing. Headphones will block traffic or grooming machine sounds.
• Encourage your child to keep moving when outdoors to help generate body heat.

Bring your child inside at the first sign of frostnip—skin that is red, numb, and tingly. Soak your child’s skin in warm water until the symptoms go away. Do not rub the skin. If symptoms do not improve, call your child’s doctor. If your child’s skin becomes white, hard, and swollen, your child may have frostbite. The skin may also burn, tingle, or become numb. If you think your child has frostbite, bring your child inside and put your child in dry clothes. Do not rub the skin, rubbing can cause more damage. Call for medical help right away.

hockey_player

Don’t Skip the Sunscreen
It is possible for your child to get a sunburn in the winter since sunlight reflects off of the snow and ice. Your child should use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Apply it to your child 20 minutes before going outside and reapply it every 2 hours.

Fuel Up for Fun
Dehydration can contribute to hypothermia. Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids, especially during vigorous physical activities. Your child will also need to fuel up to generate body heat needed for outdoor play. Provide your child with plenty of healthy snacks such as trail mix, fruit and bread.

When to Play
Freezing temperatures and wind are risk factors for hypothermia and frostbite. Avoid severe cold. Keep an eye on weather forecasts and plan outdoor activities for warmer days without snow or rain.

Following these winter safety tips will allow you and your child to safely enjoy the beauty of winter.

by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA

RESOURCES:
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
http://familydoctor.org

Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
http://www.healthychildren.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:
Canadian Paediatric Society
http://www.cps.ca

Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

REFERENCES:

Chillin’ with winter safety. Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/Chillin-With-Winter-Safety.aspx. Updated January 19, 2016. Accessed February 11, 2016.

Frostbite in children. Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford website. Available at: http://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=frostbite-in-children-90-P02820. Accessed February 11, 2016.

Keeping kids safe in the cold. American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: http://www2.aap.org/sections/schoolhealth/ECarchivenovember11.html. Accessed February 11, 2016.

Sunscreen FAQs. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/media-resources/stats-and-facts/prevention-and-care/sunscreens. Accessed February 11, 2016.

Last reviewed February 2016 by Michael Woods, MD Last Updated:10/20/2014

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

For more winter safety tips to keep you out of harm’s way this season check the articles below!

Staying Warm in Winter PTandMe  snow shoveling safety PTandMe  

snow shoveling safety

Snow Shoveling: Education & Injury Prevention

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Snow Shoveling: A common cause of soft tissue injuries & low back pain

An average of 11,500 people are treated at emergency rooms for injuries and medical emergencies related to snow shoveling each year, according to a report released Jan. 17 by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.  Data from between 1990 and 2006 shows the majority of the injuries were soft-tissue injuries, with the lower back being affected 34 percent of the time. Acute musculoskeletal exertion was the cause of injury in 54 percent of the cases, followed by slips and falls (20 percent) and being struck by a snow shovel (15 percent).  Study authors recommended individuals talk to their doctor before shoveling snow, particularly those who do not exercise regularly, have a medical condition or are in a high-risk group. They also recommended alternative snow removal methods.

Clearing snow & Ice

Clearing snow and ice from driveways and sidewalks is hard work. To prevent injuries, follow these safety tips from the National Safety Council, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and other prevention organizations.

  • Dress warmly, paying special attention to feet, hands, nose,
    and ears.
  • Avoid shoveling snow if you are out of shape. If you have a history of heart trouble, do not shovel snow unless your doctor says it’s okay.
  • Do light warm-up exercises before shoveling and take
    frequent breaks.
  • If possible, push snow in front of you. If you have to lift it, pick up small amounts and lift with your legs, not your back. Do not toss snow over your shoulder or to the side.

Use ergonomic lifting technique

Whenever possible, push the snow to one side rather than lifting it. When lifting the snow shovel is necessary, make sure to use ergonomic lifting techniques.

  • Always face towards the object you intend to lift (ie have your shoulders and hips both squarely facing it)
  • Bend at the hips, not the low back, and push the chest out, pointing forward. Then, bend your knees and lift with your leg muscles, keeping your back straight
  • Keep your loads light and do not lift an object that is too heavy
    for you
  • If you must lift a shovel full, grip the shovel with one hand as close to the blade as comfortably possible and the other hand on the handle (handle and arm length will vary the technique)
  • Avoid twisting the back to move your object to its new location – always pivot your whole body to face the new direction
  • Keep the heaviest part of the object close to your body at your center of gravity – do not extend your arms to throw the snow
  • Walk to the new location to deposit the item rather than reaching or tossing

Video provided by the Center for Physical Rehabilitation with locations throughout Grand Rapids, MI. Check them out online here.

snow shoveling safety tips PTandMe

SENIORS NOTE:

Whenever possible, avoid shoveling snow first thing in the morning. If this is not an option, a proper indoor warm up will prepare the body for additional activity. Jogging in place, or using a treadmill or stationary bike for 5-10 minutes are options for safely raising the heart rate while in a neutral temperature. As with any exercise, drinking lots of fluids will help maintain electrolyte balance and prevent fluid loss.

 

For more cold weather safety tips to keep you out of harm’s way this winter check the articles below!

Staying Warm in Winter PTandMe  Winter Safety PTandMe  

cold weather exercise tips

Cold Weather Exercise Tips: Running Safety

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Cold temperatures and decreasing daylight hours do not mean that your outdoor running routine has to go into hibernation for the winter. Running through the cold weather can ease the winter doldrums, improve your energy level and help you to be in better shape for the spring/summer. However, it is important to follow our PTandMe cold weather exercise tips to run safely and comfortably through wintry weather.

  • Pay attention to temperature and wind chill: If the temperature drops below zero F or the wind chill is below -20F, you should hit the treadmill.
  • Protect your hands and feet: It is estimated that as much as 30% of your body heat escapes through your hands and feet.
  • Dress in layers: It is important to start with a thin layer of synthetic material such as polypropylene, which wicks sweat away from your body. stay away from cotton as a base layer as it holds moisture and will keep you wet. If it is really cold out, you will need a middle layer, such as polar fleece for added insulation.
  • Avoid overdressing: You should feel a slight chill of your body the first 5 minutes of winter running; after that, you should warm up.
  • Protect your head: It is estimated that 40% of body heat is lost through your head. Wearing a hat that will help prevent heat loss is very important.
  • Do not stay in wet clothes: If you get wet from rain, snow or even from sweat in chilly temperatures, you are at risk for hypothermia. It is important that you change wet clothing immediately and get to a warm shelter as quickly as possible.
  • Stay hydrated: Despite the cool weather, you will still heat up and loos fluids through sweat. The cool air also has a drying effect, which can increase the risk of dehydration. Make sure you drink water or sports drinks before, during and after you run.
  • Remember sunscreen: Sunburn is still possible in the winter. It is also important to protect your lips with lip balm.
  • Take it easy when it is frigid: The colder the temperature becomes, the greater your risk for a pulled muscle when running in the cold, so warm up slowly and run easy on very cold days.
  • Run in the wind: If at all possible, head out into the wind, so that on your return run, the wind will be at your back when you are sweaty and could catch a chill.

For more cold weather exercise tips to keep you safe this winter check out the articles below!

Staying Warm in Winter PTandMe  Winter Safety PTandMe  Snow Shoveling Safety PTandMe