Now that we’re running head first into winter (or is winter running at us head first?), those of us with arthritis are bracing for the massive cold air that sweeps through our region almost every year. Winter can be really hard on people with arthritis, as the cold air tends to exacerbate the symptoms.
It isn’t clear exactly why people with arthritis suffer so much during winter. One study found a connection between cold, wet weather and arthritis flare ups, but connection isn’t necessarily causation. Of course, this weather makes many of us prefer to stay indoors, under a blanket, with a good movie on and a cup of hot cocoa. While that certainly is inviting, the truth is that people with arthritis generally need to move more frequently, and the weather doesn’t make it easy to get up and out for exercise.
Regardless of the cause, those with condition should know that there are several things they can do to reduce the inflammation and feel more comfortable. Here are a few tips to help keep the symptoms of arthritis at bay.
Dress for the Season
We’re not talking about ugly sweaters, necessarily, but it’s really important to dress warmly when you have arthritis. This goes for when you’re outside, but inside as well. Depending on where you have arthritis, you may want to wear thicker insulated gloves, hats, and scarves—even if you’re in the house. Thermal underwear can also go a long way to keeping your body warm. And if you do go out during wet conditions, it’s a good idea to wear waterproof footwear and/or socks that will keep your feet nice and toasty—and dry.
Get Up and Move
We recently talked about exercising indoors during the cold months. For people with arthritis, this is doubly important. Getting daily exercise is essential for fighting stiffness and maintaining flexibility, while also supporting heart health (among other things). What’s more, getting in a good cardio workout can raise your body temperature, which helps to warm the body and ease joint inflammation and pain. Of course, be sure not to overdo it, either, as that can make arthritis symptoms even worse.
It’s far easier to get dehydrated in winter than it is in summer, mainly because we don’t always notice ourselves getting thirsty. But drinking enough water is essential to helping manage arthritis pain. The reason for this is that water helps the body produce synovial fluid, which is sort of a natural lubricant the body produces to prevent bones from rubbing together. One easy way to ensure you stay hydrated enough is to carry a reusable water bottle wherever you go.