As we say so long to the warm weather and look ahead to winter, many people have already brought out their boots, gloves, and jackets for this exciting time of year. If you suffer from arthritis and joint pain, however, then you’ll dread this time of year. That’s because symptoms can get progressively worse during the colder months.
Although there are ways individuals can get around this problem (by dressing in warm clothes, stretching, and staying indoors), most people who suffer from arthritis are always looking for a way out. The connection between arthritis and weather has been known for more than 2,000 years, which is why doctors haven’t found a way to completely resolve this issue.
Although this information might sound really disappointing, there are some management techniques that could be used to help ease the pain and understand the link between arthritis and cold weather. In some cases, you’ll need a combination of different methods and may need to add or stop certain techniques as conditions change over time.
So, what are some things you can do to help lighten the pain? Let’s take a look.
Start by Taking Care of Your Body: When it comes to taking care of your body, perhaps the best thing you could do is eat foods that are high in nutrients. By giving your body the nourishment it needs to function properly, you can prevent things like muscle cramps and joint pain. In order for this to happen, though, you need to start making healthier choices. So instead of eating snacks like potato chips, reach for a banana or a handful of trail mix to snack on.
Another thing you could do to help your body is to practice maintaining a good posture. If you stand up straight, with your shoulders back and your legs fully extended, then you can help minimize your arthritis pain—even in the winter months. That being said, if you look in the mirror and think your posture could be better, change it. Activities like hiking, stretching, and yoga can make the adjustment effortless.
If you start to experience pain in the process, you’ll want to contact a physician who can observe the way you sit, stand, and walk. They can help you make adjustments without dealing with the pain involved.
Lastly, practice taking breaks throughout the course of the day. If you enjoy exercising, for instance, make sure you take breaks in between workouts by resting. Although you might feel the urge to keep going and continue your workout routine, a short reprieve can reduce inflammation. As a result, you’ll be able to complete your training while experiencing less pain in the process.
The Weather: The winter time can, without a doubt, be an exciting time of year. After all, the weather is chilled, hot chocolate is being made, and of course, the snow is falling. The cooler months can also present some problems as well. These problems can range from things like common colds to eye fatigue, which can lead to other health issues later on down the line.
It can also cause flares for individuals who are dealing with arthritis. With the cold winds, dry air, and constant heat from central air units, things can get ugly quick; although research is still being done on this topic, doctors agree that cold temperatures affect the nerves that surround joint tissue.
Cold weather has the ability to shrink tissue found in the joint area specifically. This can cause joint pain, nerve pain, and inflammation. The individual’s behavior during this time of year can also play a factor as well. So, if you tend to stay indoors and hibernate during the winter months, you could actually be doing more harm than good. Instead, go to the gym and get moving. Giving your joints the opportunity to move around freely can reduce pain and keep you active.
Use Heated and Cooling Pads to Your Advantage: Medical experts usually recommend the use of heating and cooling pads to individuals who suffer from arthritis because it can soothe stiff joints and increase mobility.
If your joints are inflamed, something cold could ease the problem and reduce the pain drastically, which is the main benefit of using a cooling pad. It can also decrease blood flow, which can reduce things like swelling and inflammatory waste from building up. On the other hand, warming up your body using heating pads can ease the pain as well by making sure your body is sending blood to the affected areas. This will not only reduce inflammation, but it will also relax your muscles and get rid of waste that can cause stiffness within the joints.
Even though hot and cold treatments can’t prevent arthritis from flaring up, they can work to lessen the pain and reduce the risk of inflammation in the long run. That being said, cold therapy works best after exercising, and warm therapy works best when muscle and joints start to feel stiff.
In the end, while you can’t change the weather outside, you can change your daily routines to make your arthritis less painful. So make sure you avoid staying indoors all winter long, dress warm, and make time to exercise.