How to Thaw Winter’s Grip on Arthritic Joint Pain
Can you predict the weather by whether your arthritis flares up or not? If so, you’re not alone. Nearly 68 percent of respondents to a Harvard Medical School survey said that they were sure changes in the weather affected their chronic pain, according to Arthritis Foundation of WA.
Every 10-degree drop in temperature causes an incremental increase in arthritis pain, according to research cited by the Arthritis Foundation. In this study, the researchers found that rain and dropping barometric pressure can cause arthritic joints to ache.
While medical science has not yet determined why weather changes affect arthritis pain, they suspect barometric pressure plays a role. Barometric pressure, also known as atmospheric pressure, measures the amount of force the air exerts against your body and other surfaces. High barometric pressure means the air is pushing against your body with some degree of force, while low barometric pressure means the air is hardly pushing against you at all.
Researchers think low pressure allows your tissues to expand and press against nerves to cause pain. High barometric pressure reduces arthritis pain because it keeps your tissues from expanding.
How to Melt Away Arthritis Aches and Pains this Winter
While you may not be able to prevent all the aches and pains of arthritis in the winter, you can take steps to reduce stiffness and discomfort in your joints. Here are a few ways you can thaw winter’s grip on your arthritic joints.
Take a warm shower or bath
Doctors often recommend heat or cold therapy to ease arthritis. Cold therapy reduces inflammation to prevent pain, but cold therapy during the winter is no fun. Instead, try heat therapy that soothes pain by relaxing muscles and increasing blood flow to sore joints. Heat therapy works better for osteoarthritis pain, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Apply heat in the form of a hot bath or shower, a spa or heated paraffin wax baths for 15 minutes two to three times each day.
Dress in loose fitting layers when going outside. The layers trap your body heat to prevent heat loss. Pay special attention to your head, hands and feet, as they are where you lose most of your body heat. Wear a hat, scarf, socks and waterproof boots, and mittens or gloves. Bring extra gear if you expect to get wet in the rain or snow.
Do you have arthritis in your hands or fingers? Try mittens. Mittens keep your hands warmer than do gloves. Each finger generates body heat that helps your other fingers stay warm. Wearing gloves separates your fingers, while wearing mittens keep your fingers snug and warm next to one another.
Eating a Mediterranean diet, also known as an anti-inflammatory diet, can ease arthritis by reducing inflammation. It can also help alleviate arthritis pain by helping you lose weight. The Mediterranean diet is low in processed foods and saturated fats, and is rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts and grains.
The cold temperatures and slippery surfaces of winter may make you want to hibernate until spring. Unfortunately, sitting around can stiffen arthritic joints to cause aches and pains; lack of physical activity can also make you weak. Exercise eases arthritis pain, increases strength, improves flexibility and helps combat fatigue.
Go for a walk at the mall or other locations that allow walkers. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator whenever possible. Enroll in an aerobics or yoga class.
Go for a swim at your local indoor pool. Join a fitness center, where you can use state-of-the-art exercise equipment to keep those joints moving. Stretch or perform other light exercises while you watch television or listen to music.
Join an independent living community
High caliber independent living communities provide a number of services and amenities to help you melt winter’s icy grip on your joints. A warm building keeps out the chill, and a modern fitness center gives you an opportunity to exercise without venturing out into the cold and snow.
Check out Homestead at Hamilton
Homestead at Hamilton has what you need to stay healthy all year long, including winter. We help you meet your goals, engage your mind and body and provide you the control you want over your surroundings and over your health. Here, you will find multiple dining options, a state-of-the-art fitness center and exercise studio to help you keep your body and mind fit. Contact us today to learn more about our community or to schedule a tour.