Managing Arthritis in the Winter
There are lots of things to love about winter: curling up with a good book, a blanket and a cup of tea, warming yourself in front of an open fire and playing outside in the snow with your kids. However, if you suffer from arthritis that has a tendency to flare up in the cold weather, getting into the winter spirit can prove to be a bit more difficult – after all, chronic pain can put a damper on even the happiest of times.
It can… but we don’t think that should be the case. There are a few options out there that might help you soothe discomfort and lessen stiffness, from home remedies to our active patches. For some suggestions that may reduce flare ups brought on by the cold weather and lead to a happier, healthier winter season, read on.
Why Does Arthritis Hurt in Cold Weather?
In the UK alone, over 10 million people suffer from arthritis or similar joint-related conditions. If you’re one of those sufferers, more likely than not you are aware that when Old Man Winter comes to call, your symptoms may be exacerbated.
While the causes of this phenomenon are widely unknown, experts do have some speculations. Dr Terence Starz, a rheumatologist at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Pittsburgh, suggests that the increased pain could be due to decreased activity:
“We know that physical activity relieves arthritis pain. And when the weather is unpleasant, people tend to hole up inside. That inactivity can lead to more pain.”
Other scientists have different theories. Some argue that low temperatures could thicken joint fluid and, in turn, make joints stiffer and more sensitive to pain. Others suggest that changes in barometric pressure (from going up very high to going down very low) could make bones, muscles, scar tissue and tendons expand and contract, which can cause pain.
Regardless of the cause, Dr Starz believes a person’s mindset can have a lot to do with the level of pain they experience:
“The mind-body connection is strong. If warm sunny weather makes you feel better psychologically, you’ll probably feel better physically as well.”
There’s no one answer as to why arthritis and joint stiffness can worsen in cold weather, but there are many steps you can take to relieve some of those symptoms during the winter. They will give you peace of mind as well as physical relief, meaning your mind and body will be on the same page.
The Best Pain Relief for Arthritis
- Active patches
Our active patches are a great alternative for people with arthritis who don’t like the fuss and mess of traditional solutions. There are no pills or creams involved – just a simple patch that can be applied directly to the spot where you are experiencing discomfort. They are fast acting, last for up to 24 hours and offer lasting benefits for your joints and muscles. Sizes range from small (ideal for fingers and wrists) to big (great for your back). The patches have the added benefit of allowing vitamin D and dextrose, a sugar medically known to reduce nerve pain, to directly target the affected area.
- Physical activity
Staying physically active, even during the colder months of the year when all you might want to do is hunker down inside, is an important part of reducing joint stiffness. The more you move, the more you’ll release feel-good chemicals called endorphins, which can also help to get rid of pain. If you don’t already, consider trying activities that won’t stress your joints, such as swimming, tai chi and yoga, and aren’t outside in the cold, like going to the gym.
- Keep warm
If the cold is causing you discomfort, make sure you’re toasty and warm as much as possible. Wear lots of layers while you’re outside, make sure each of the rooms in your house has an easily accessible blanket and, if possible, invest in a space heater. Essential oils such as lavender can be used to massage painful joints and a 20-minute soak in a bath filled with warm water is a great way to reduce discomfort.
- Eat healthily
Believe it or not, the foods you eat can affect joint swelling and stiffness – so it’s a good idea to ensure you’re making healthy choices, especially during the colder seasons. Avoid high-fructose corn syrup, cholesterol and sugar whenever possible. Instead, munch on foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Your joints (and the rest of your body!) will thank you.
Stretch regularly to reduce joint pain and stiffness. Ideally you should be stretching every day. It’s recommended you do this right when you wake up and just before you go to bed. Focus on gently moving your wrists and ankles. Knee bends can also be very helpful. Consult your doctor or a physical therapist for more exercises that could be useful to you specifically.
Airrosti’s Dr. Brooke Halboth demonstrates four simple exercises that can help you manage your arthritis pain in your upper and lower body. Watch to learn how adding Airrosti treatment to your pain management plan can help keep you moving.
- Different strokes for different folks
Not all relief tactics will work for everyone – so it’s a good idea to try a few to see what’s right for you. Many people cite the following as useful tools to manage their arthritis:
- Essential oils
- Seeing a chiropractor
- An overall healthier lifestyle
People with arthritis shouldn’t have to miss out on all the joys of winter just because the weather is colder. Reducing your discomfort is an important part of living your life to the fullest – perhaps trying one of our suggestions could be right for you.
If you have any further questions about arthritis, it’s always a good idea to get in touch with a medical professional. However, if you’re aware of the facts and are ready to begin a healthier, happier lifestyle, get in touch with our expert team today and see how our active patches can help you.