7 Tips To Survive Winter With Arthritis
As the nights draw in and the weather gets colder, you might be worried about how the chillier temperatures will affect your arthritis. Some people find that colder weather makes joint pain worse, which is the last thing you need when the weather turns.
Winter may not be your favourite time of year, but don’t worry. There are ways to manage things so read on for our tips on how to ease joint pain this winter.
How and why can cold weather affect osteoarthritic joints?
Many people with arthritis swear that their symptoms get worse during cold, damp or warm weather. Many believe an increase in pain in their joints means it’s going to rain or the weather is going to change.
Can the weather really make joint pain worse? A study by the University of Manchester called 'Cloudy With A Chance of Pain' collected information from 13,000 people with chronic pain over a 15 month period. The results showed that many people found weather does impact their pain but was often damp weather rather than cold that had the greatest affect.
What remains a mystery is why weather can impact pain. It could be because during the colder months we tend to stay inside and move less or it could be nerve endings already experiencing pain are more sensitive to changes in weather.
But there are ways to ease joint pain in winter. Here are some helpful tips.
Wrap up warm
If you find cold weather makes your joint pain worse then think about how you can keep yourself warm. Investing in thermal underwear can be a great way to do this.
Layering-up during cold weather can help your body adjust more readily to temperature changes when going from inside to outside.
Get fresh air - but don’t over do it
Fresh air is essential for us and even more so during the winter months when the days are shorter and we're getting less sunlight and therefore less Vitamin D. One key thing to be aware of is when you go out in the cold weather to be careful to wrap-up warm but also to allow changes in body temperature to not be too sudden as this can cause muscles to tense and make pain around already sore joints worse.
You don’t have to do star jumps to keep yourself warm outdoors, but staying active can help warm you up and get your body moving - which can help with the pain of arthritis.
Don’t forget to exercise
If living with joint pain it's essential to keep joints moving. And the winter months are no different. Moving joints is key in keeping the muscles around the joint strong to support it but also bringing blood flow to the joint which in turn brings essential nutrients.
You don’t have to force yourself to run in the snow to stay active - there are loads of exercises you can do from the comfort (and warmth!) of your own home. Why not try downloading a yoga app or watching a beginners’ salsa video on Youtube?
Try warm water
Another good way of exercising in winter is indoor swimming. It’s a low impact form of exercise which doesn’t put excess pressure on your joints, and it both strengthens your muscles and gives you a great cardio workout.
Having a warm bath to ease aches and pains is a tried, tested and effective option. The warm water stimulates blood flow to your muscles and joints, whilst also relaxing the muscles and promoting tissue healing. Baths are also just a wonderful way to unwind!
It's always important to keep hydrated and you probably do this well in the hot summer months but perhaps negelect it a bit during winter. This can lead to increased pain levels as our body needs hydration to function effectively and this includes easing pain. So be sure to drink plenty of water even if it's cold outside.
It’s worth remembering our joints contain fluid and cartilage that needs to be kept hydrated, so it’s essential that you drink plenty of water. It’s a good idea to get a reusable water bottle that you can take around with you and fill up when needed.
Get that vitamin D
As the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, you’ll probably be spending less time in the sun and may end up suffering from a lack of vitamin D. This vitamin helps prevent thinning of the bones and may have anti-inflammatory effects, both of which are important for preventing osteoarthritis and lessening its effects.
Hot and cold treatments
Some people find hot treatment can be hugely helpful to ease joint pain. Others, however swear by cold treatment like an ice pack placed on the joint. The key is if you know what works for you stick with it, even if it is putting a cold treatment on your joints in the cold. Everyone is different so try a few ideas to see which ones work best for you.
What are your tips for easing joint pain in the winter? Let us know on Facebook.