By Sophia Moss
The air is cold, the days are short and your joints are aching: winter is officially coming. We know that arthritis pain can be worse in the colder months, but you don’t just have to grin and bear it. Here is a list of tips for how you can lessen pain and manage your arthritis all winter long.
Have you found that your arthritis is worse in the winter? According to Dr Wendy Holden, a medical advisor from charity Arthritis Action, many people find that colder and damper weather has an adverse effect on their joints.
So what can you do to lessen the pain? “The key to less joint pain in the winter is to keep your trunk warm, as this helps to keep the joints warm too,” Dr Holden says.
Winter clothing tips
If you don’t own any thermal clothes, it may be time to invest in some.“Thermal vests and several thin layers can help, as can thermal socks and insoles,” says Dr. Holden.
“If there are sudden changes of temperature, for example, going through cold areas in supermarkets, this can be an issue, so make sure to wear a coat even if you're just going in for a few minutes,” she continues.
You don’t want to be stuck in a huge coat if you’re going to be spending most of your time indoors, so it’s important to layer your clothes so you can be comfortable in multiple environments.
If you have to de-ice the car or do any activities with your hands outdoors, consider investing in a pair of fingerless gloves to keep your hands warm.
We know exercise is probably the last thing you want to do in the cold, dark winter evenings, but keeping mobile is important for circulation - which can reduce stiffness and decrease pain.
“Keeping mobile can help improve the blood flow to the joints and this can help reduce stiffness so doing a few warming up exercises before leaving the house can help,” says Dr. Holden.
You may want to avoid exercising outside, but luckily there are plenty of low impact activities - like yoga, tai chi, swimming in a heated pool or using low-impact exercise equipment - that you can do in your own home, at a local gym or in a community centre.
Just adding some gentle stretches to your morning routine can help improve circulation and make your joints more supple. Want some tips on how to get moving in the morning when you have arthritis? Read all about it here.
Looking for another reason to quit cigarettes for 2020? Smoking can make your blood circulation worse, which can lead to stiffer, more painful joints. Dr.Holden advises that avoiding smoking can improve general circulation, plus a variety of other health benefits.
Did you know that dehydration can make joint pain worse? Everyone knows it’s important to drink plenty of water during summer, but it’s just as important when it’s cold outside.
Carry a bottle of water with you, drink plenty of warm tea and try to avoid excess alcohol and caffeine. At this time of year it’s okay to be part of the festivities but everything in moderation is key. It’s also worth noting, as Dr. Holden points out, that “Alcohol might help you to feel warmer but it can actually contribute to heat loss so make sure you keep plenty of layers handy if you're going out for a drink,”
Have a warm bath
Having a warm bath is great for relaxation and stress relief, but it can also help relax the joints and decrease stiffness. Try adding a dash of essential oils, listen to some soothing music and treat yourself to a spa day from the comfort of your home! Baths are also a great place to try meditation, which can help relieve stress and contribute towards a healthier lifestyle.
Don’t forget about Vitamin D
A lack of vitamin D can contribute to knee pain and can be detrimental to your overall health. It’s hard to get enough vitamin D in the winter, so you may want to talk to your doctor about any supplements they can recommend.