Managing Your Arthritis During the Cold Winter Months : It’s officially winter, if not by the calendar, then by the temperatures. And with the cold weather comes the increased stiffness and aches from arthritis. Although the phenomena of increased joint pain in colder temps hasn’t been rigorously scientifically studied, almost every person living with arthritis can speak to the effect of colder weather on inflamed and painful joints.
Here are some simple things you can do to tamp down the increased inflammation and support your body during the winter months.
Managing Your Arthritis During the Cold Winter Months
1. Stay warm!
It sounds like a no-brainer, but it is easy to under-dress in cold weather, thinking that you’ll be inside and warm soon enough. Go ahead and dress as if you were going to be outside for an extended length of time–it’s easier on your body if you stay warm rather than warm up again. Dress in layers, especially for your hands and feet. Think multiple pairs of socks and gloves inside of mittens. Once inside, don’t take off all of the layers at once. Listen to your body and take off one layer at a time as you begin to feel too warm.
It’s easy to lose track of your water intake in the cold because you don’t feel thirsty but one of the best ways to support your joints is to stay hydrated. Apps such as Hydro Coach and Daily Water (or the adorable Plant Nanny) can help you track how much you’re drinking and remind you to drink water throughout the day.
3. Avoid gaining weight
The winter months are notorious for weight gain. Shorter days, colder temperatures and lots of holiday feasting make for a bad combination for people with arthritis for whom every extra ounce means added stress on joints. There’s no need to resort to crash diets and fads, but try hard to maintain balance by making sure you compensate for any overindulgence with some exercise and a salad or two.
4. Provide your joints with extra support in the form of braces and supports.
Wearing extra supports for your joints can serve a two-fold purpose: not only are you adding another layer of warmth, but you are providing some additional support for your body should you slip and fall on icy precipitation. Use a support brace for arthritic knees, protect your wrists and ankles with support protectors and compression sleeves.
It’s tempting to put your exercise routine on hold rather than try to train outside, but research has shown that people with arthritis should stay active. According to a recent study, people with joint pain who remained active has better physical function than those who became sedentary. Mix things up by moving your exercise indoors –join a gym or invest in a treadmill or elliptical trainer. If you have arthritic knees, try a recumbent bicycle and don’t forget to wear braces on your knees for extra support.
6. Don’t neglect your supplements and nutrition.
Strive for a healthy diet of whole foods, limit your alcohol intake and remember to take supplements that help with inflammation. Check with your doctor to see if taking a glucosamine-chondroitin supplement and/or a fish oil supplement with omega-3 fatty acids would make sense for your particular body.
7. Try some non-traditional healing modalities such as acupuncture or healing energy massage.
In a recent experiment, people with arthritis who had a weekly, hour-long massage for eight weeks in a row reported significantly less pain than those who didn’t, according to a study reported in the August, 2015 edition of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
Lastly, the cold can really exacerbate arthritis symptoms and cause new flare-ups. It’s important to stay educated about arthritis types –the symptoms, diagnostic criteria, and treatment options and breakthroughs. It’s easy to dismiss any new symptoms as a worsening of an arthritis in a known area of your body due to the cold, but often, a new diagnoses may be necessary. For example, if you’ve experienced arthritis in your hands in the past and are suddenly feeling increased inflammation and pain in your thumb, it may be completely unrelated to your usual arthritic hands.
New research has shown that pain in the thumb can have a multitude of causes and that diagnosing it correctly early on can greatly help getting the inflammation and pain under control before a flare occurs. Using hot and cold therapy and promptly making use of a special brace can make a world of difference in managing the increased pain.
This winter, don’t let the cold keep you shut in or slow you down. With just a little planning and a few healthy habits, you will sail through the cold like a sailboat in the Caribbean!
Related Videos to Arthritis During the Cold Winter:
Cold Weather and Joint Pain
Cold weather exercise tips for arthritis sufferers
Why does my arthritis get worse during the winter?
Cold Weather Means Aches and Pains to those with Arthritis
Tips for minimising cold weather arthritis pain
Finding arthritis relief in the winter
Managing Your Arthritis During the Cold Winter Months
arthritis and humid weather, barometric pressure and arthritis pain, best weather for arthritis, cold weather and arthritis symptoms, cold weather joint pain, does cold weather cause arthritis, osteoarthritis cold weather, rheumatoid arthritis cold weather, Arthritis During the Cold Winter