During the winter months, the deer tick species that carries Lyme disease goes dormant. Well, when the temperature drops below freezing, they go dormant. As you may already know, the colder temperatures do not make your Lyme disease arthritis go dormant.
Just the opposite can happen. The colder weather can enhance the pain of your Lyme disease arthritis symptoms.
Why Winter Makes Symptoms Worse
There is no one specific explanation for why symptoms seem to worsen in the winter months. Some claim it is because winter brings a drop in barometric pressure, which causes tissues to expand and put more pressure on the nerves around joints. Some claim it is because colder weather causes us to tighten our muscles and stiffen our bodies.
Further, some say the cold weather slows blood circulation, and this leads to muscle tightness. Also, winter weather can negatively affect mood. For example, if you feel more depressed in the winter, and because depression can lead to body aches and pains, this could be another reason for increased Lyme disease arthritis pain.
The key to managing your Lyme disease arthritis this winter includes multiple steps listed below that you can start taking today.
1. Know Your Symptoms
Arthritis symptoms related to Lyme disease can be excruciating. The more chronic your arthritis, the more pain you may feel.
Whether you have one symptom or multiple, you must seek help from a Lyme literate doctor.
Arthritis occurs when there are swelling and inflammation in your joints. The inflammation can lead to feelings of tenderness and soreness in the joint.
Winter symptoms can include fatigue, stiffness when you wake up in the morning, stiffness when changing positions, numbness, tingling, and fever. The stiffness prevents you from fully utilizing your arms, legs, and any other body part with arthritis.
Additional winter symptoms can include a burning sensation and can be a consistent dull ache. Your skin may appear red around the joint affected by Lyme disease arthritis.
Unfortunately, chronic symptoms can affect mental health, causing you to feel depressed and anxious. This is another reason seeking treatment is crucial.
To receive the best treatment, make sure you work with a Lyme literate doctor who can give you an accurate diagnosis to create a beneficial treatment plan.
2. Get the Right Diagnosis
Lyme disease can be contracted at any time during the year, even in the winter. Seek treatment as soon as you start having symptoms. Working with a specialist in Lyme disease medicine can help prevent misdiagnosing your Lyme disease for other disorders.
This happens a lot because Lyme disease tests are often inaccurate. Also, arthritis can be caused by multiple sources. This means you can test negative for Lyme disease even when you have it. Some doctors stop testing you after a negative result. They then assume your arthritis is caused by some other reason, like a decrease in cartilage around your joints.
A misdiagnosis like this can create chronic arthritic pain for you.
A Lyme specialist will use advanced tests and thorough documentation of your symptoms to determine if your arthritis is directly connected to Lyme disease.
3. Know Your Treatment Options
Your Lyme literate doctor can provide treatments beyond traditional antibiotic protocols, which don’t always eliminate the pain. Modern Lyme specialists can provide treatments such as apheresis, which is the process of replacing your infected blood and plasma with healthy versions.
Other treatments include oxidative medicine, pain medication, parasite inactivation, and hyperthermia. These treatments can be complemented with the use of nutraceuticals and IV therapies.
Because your Lyme symptoms are unique, you and your doctor will create an individualized treatment plan that matches Lyme fighting therapies with your needs.
Making lifestyle tweaks can also help in treating Lyme disease arthritis in the winter.
4. Stay Warm
It makes sense that to lessen Lyme disease arthritis symptoms in the winter, avoid the cold as much as possible. This does not mean you must stay inside all the time.
Before going out into the cold, put on warm gloves or use hand warmers. Wear warmer clothing, especially around the joints that are inflamed. While in the house, use hot water bottles and electric blankets to keep warm.
5. Physical Movement
When you have pain from Lyme disease arthritis, the last thing you want to do is move around. You feel too stiff, and it can be painful to complete simple tasks. However, moving the areas inflamed can prevent stiffness.
Even short walks and stretches can improve symptoms. Wearing a brace may help. You may want to get help from a physical therapist trained in providing the most therapeutic movements to combat arthritis.
6. Watch What Goes Into Your Body
Some foods act as medicines. Some foods are anti-medicinal. Sugar, for example, causes inflammation in the body. Fruits and vegetables lessen inflammation.
Water is one of the most potent inflammation fighters. Further, your Lyme specialist will recommend vitamins and supplements that work to decrease arthritis symptoms.
7. Alternative Therapies
During the winter, finding alternative methods of fighting Lyme arthritis can mean the difference between being stuck at home and enjoying being productive.
Alternative therapies include acupuncture, massage therapy, meditation, and swimming in a warm pool of water. You can choose to receive vitamins through IV therapies and participate in a weight loss program if needed. Being overweight can increase inflammation and negative symptoms.
Finally, discover ways to get restorative sleep, the kind that allows your mind and body to heal, leaving you feeling refreshed upon waking.
Restorative sleep means keeping a routine of when you go to sleep and when you wake up. It means avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed, sleeping with electronics and lights off, and prevent the middle of the night interruptions.
Sleep on a mattress that is comfortable and doesn’t make you toss and turn. Make sleep something you look forward to doing each night.
To learn more tips on fighting off Lyme disease arthritis and its symptoms, contact a Lyme literate doctor today.