Tips for arthritis in wintry weather 

Struggling to get out of bed in the morning? The winter season may be great for Christmas parties, drinking hot chocolate and cosying up indoors but as those living with arthritis will tell you, it is also the season of joint aches, pains and stiffness. Getting out of bed in the mornings may get harder as the temperature drops and the days get shorter. Don’t let this hold you back though, there are many things that you can do to help manage arthritis in the chilly weather.

Research is still ongoing over the various aspects that contribute to increased pain during cold weather. One theory suggests that changes in barometric pressure in the atmosphere that accompanies the drop in temperature could increase the pain in arthritic joints. Other theories propose that the lack of sunshine and reduced activity contributes towards a negative change in your mood which can affect your pain. On a more direct level, the colder weather reduces the elasticity of the connective tissue in your body, making your muscles and joints less flexible which leads to pain and stiffness. The bottom line is that the low temperatures has a real effect on joints and pain levels.

Stay warm

Staying warm is key to maintaining good circulation to the joints and reducing the amount of stiffness. Layer up when going outdoors. Think warm coats, scarves, hats, gloves, thick socks and all the layers in-between that you can take off when needed. Ensure that you have enough blankets at home to throw over cold feet and shoulders. Use hot water bottles, warm baths/showers or heat patches if needed. This is the perfect opportunity to cosy up to someone.

Keep moving

Although we want to go into hibernation mode, exercise is vital for maintaining muscle strength, good joint mobility and cardiovascular fitness all of which support healthy joints. It also helps to keep the excess weight at bay which could lead to increased pressure on the joints resulting in more pain. The best would be to exercise indoors such as doing yoga or Pilates, swimming, spinning, tai chi, treadmill walking or just doing some stretches/exercises at home. Try not to maintain one position for too long ,such as sitting on the couch or at the desk, as the joints tend to stiffen up, leading to pain. Rather change postures frequently and take regular breaks as much as possible.

Eat and drink right

Diet can have a large effect on your joint health. Vitamin-D is essential for healthy joints and a deficiency can be brought on by lack of sunshine as well as not eating enough Vitamin rich foods. Other foods that help promote joint health are Omega 3 and 6 which you can find in fish such as salmon or mackerel or from taking a supplement. Eating healthy also helps to keep your weight down. Drinking lots of water is just as important as a healthy diet since your cartilage is largely made of water therefore being hydrated should help reduce the pain.  Remember to consult your GP or nutritionist before starting any new supplements or diets that you are unsure of.

Massage

Massages can help relieve tight muscles which contribute to joint stiffness and pain. It also improves the circulation, bringing in much needed oxygen and nutrients to the tissues. The relaxed muscles should help improve joint mobility too, making it easier to move.

So, don’t let the cold weather get you down, enjoy the winter months by staying warm, staying active, eating healthy, drinking lots of water and maybe spoiling yourself with a massage or two.