Struggling with arthritis?
You might have heard other people with arthritis say they could predict rainy weather or an upcoming cold snap by the pain in their joints or said those words yourself.
The barometric pressure that causes the colder weather of winter does indeed impact how you feel. The arthritis management tips you normally employ aren’t always enough to stay ahead of the pain during the winter months.
While medical researchers and climatologists can’t pinpoint the exact reason for your cold weather arthritis challenges, it’s nice to know that thousands of other sufferers have reported the same thing.
Below are 10 tips to help you manage your arthritis better, no matter where you live.
1. Dress Warmly
Make sure you dress warmly every time you leave the house. This includes adding extra layers to cover your legs and knees, thick gloves to keep your hands warm, and footwear with a built-in layer of warmth. Dressing in layers gives you the greatest control of your comfort. You can always remove a shirt or pair of long underwear if you become too warm.
2. Hydration Matters
Keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water during the day. Allowing yourself to become even mildly dehydrated can increase your sensitivity to arthritis pain. If possible, drink 8-10 fluid ounces of water.
If you want to change things up, consider flavored waters that are available at most grocery stores. Avoid sugary drinks that can add unwanted calories – and weight.
3. Stay Active
While it’s tempting to avoid going outside and lead a sedentary lifestyle during the winter, make sure you remain active by exercising indoors. Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do to manage your arthritis pain.
If you don’t want to join a gym or invest in exercise equipment, plan to do a few laps around your local mall each day. Activity keeps your muscles strong and ligaments lumber.
4. Warm Baths Help
Take a warm bath often and go swimming in a heated pool if you have the opportunity. You just want to avoid going directly from warm water to cool air since your body temperature needs time to adjust.
FYI – If you are unable to take a bath because you don’t have a bathtub, a warm shower may be equally helpful.
5. Get Some Sun
Sunshine is an important natural source of Vitamin D, but it’s in short supply during the winter. Taking a supplement of Vitamin D in the winter is important to keep your joints as healthy as possible.
Besides making arthritis worse, a lack of Vitamin D also increases your risk of developing osteoporosis.
6. Supportive Shoes Matter
Reduce your risk of injury when going outside by wearing supportive, solid shoes and remaining aware of your environment. Freezing rain can make walkways especially slick, so be sure to avoid walking on any surface that has a glare to it.
Look for high quality footwear that supports your arches, legs, and back.
7. Consider Fish Oil
Start taking fish oil tablets if you don’t already do so. The Arthritis Foundation suggests taking up to 2.6 grams of it each day to reduce inflammation levels.
However, let your doctor know if you decide to take fish oil since it can increase the risk of bleeding or bruising.
8. Massages Offer Relief
A weekly massage can be an effective strategy for reducing both joint and muscle pain. If cost is a concern, commit to it just for the winter or make bi-weekly appointments instead.
If your personal finances prohibit frequent massages, consider using a tennis ball for self-massage.
9. Pain Relievers for Inflammation
Don’t be afraid to use over-the-counter pain relievers when you’re in the middle of an arthritis flare. While lifestyle changes are often effective to manage pain, you may need drug therapy on occasion as well.
You can lessen the likelihood of side effects by taking the lowest possible dose for the shortest amount of time you need to experience relief.
Some people who experience worsening arthritis pain in the winter have found relief with acupuncture. It may be worth investigating if you’re open to alternative treatments.
10 Lose Weight if Necessary
Carrying even a few extra pounds can put added stress on your joints, especially those in your knees and feet. Losing weight may be the most important thing of all to manage your arthritis all four seasons of the year.
Don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician if you still struggle with worsening pain during the winter or you need help with a weight loss plan.
Do you struggle with arthritis? Do your symptoms become worse during winter?