When its cold outside, many with arthritis believe to experience more arthritis-related joint pain. You or a family member may be heard saying “this cold weather is really making my joints ache” Is this an “old wives tale” or does cold weather really affect Arthritis?
Arthritis is a disease that causes joint pain, stiffness and swelling. The joint pain of arthritis can appear as knee pain, hip pain, thumb pain, hand pain, or wrist pain, as well as in other areas of the body. There is no conclusive scientific evidence that weather exacerbates symptoms of arthritis although there could be a link between low barometric pressure, high humidity and joint swelling. Swelling in turn can cause stiffness of the joints and pain.
How we react to cold weather
When it is cold outside, people tend to be more guarded. We clench up our fists and arms, we hunker down in our seats, burrow into our coats and generally, tighten up our bodies to shield ourselves from the elements. These defensive postures can cause more joint pain and stiffness.
But more importantly, people tend to exercise less in the colder months. Sometimes a lot less. It’s well-known that exercise eases the pain associated with arthritis. It increases flexibility, eases our joints, makes us stronger and improves our overall health. When it’s cold or wet out, we tend to make exercise less of a priority, often ignoring it altogether. Shorter daylight hours in the winter months also limits outside exercise time.
What can you do?
When venturing outside it’s important to dress warmly, using layers to trap heat close to your body. Be sure to cover your head, hands and feet well because we tend to lose most of our body heat from those areas. Protective Gloves, like Protexgloves, are lightweight, cottony soft and provide light compression. They keep your hands warm without restricting hand and finger movement. Great to wear inside in a chilly house or office and outside under your winter gloves.
Topical creams can also help protect against the loss of your body’s own natural warmth. Warm Skin® All Weather Guard Cream insulates and protects your skin from cold and moisture loss caused by weather conditions.
Arthritis & Exercise
When the weather prohibits adequate outdoor activities, turn inward and figure out how to exercise inside. It’s key to maintain an active lifestyle throughout the year. If you are in the midst of a flare up, do what you can because it’s worse to not do anything at all. Check your local area for mall walkers programs, yoga classes, or aqua fitness classes at a nearby heated indoor pool. Look around your house or apartment and make the best use of your indoor space. Take the stairs when you can and maybe borrow or invest in a stationary exercise bike or a treadmill.
Be sure to stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water and juice. This will help flush out toxins and help alleviate joint pain. Indulge in hot beverages, such as hot tea, hot chocolate and soup. All are warming and comforting on a raw winter day.
You can use a dehumidifier to maintain moisture level at work or home. Start your day with a hot shower. A hot shower can work some of the stiffness out of the joints and warms up your whole body.
Talk to your health care professional about other treatments like over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, acupuncture, massage, and supportive splints and braces that can be helpful.
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Our blogs are educational in nature and are not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Because your condition is unique to you, it is recommended that you consult with your health care provider before attempting any medical or therapeutic treatments. We are always happy to answer questions about products mentioned in our blogs, however, we cannot provide a diagnosis or medical advice.