The winter months can be especially difficult if you suffer from arthritis. But they don’t have to be. There’s actually a number of things you can do to keep your arthritis from dictating your life until spring is in full swing. Here are 15 ways you can manage your arthritis pain this winter.
Drinking water | seb_ra/iStock/Getty Images
Dehydration, even if it’s mild, can make the pain in your joints even worse, Everday Health tells us. Additionally, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center says dehydration reduces flexibility, which can make you more susceptible to injury.
2. Exercise indoors
Woman doing yoga, with focus on hands | iStock.com/jacoblund
Staying inside away from the cold can help your arthritis pain, but that doesn’t mean you should sit still all winter. Consider a low-impact class at the gym or at-home workout videos to keep yourself active without having to go out in the cold.
3. Get your vitamin D
Taking a supplement for digestive health. | diego_cervo/iStock/Getty Images
Pain Management revealed in a 2015 issue that a lack of vitamin D can contribute to knee pain. It also raises the risk of osteoarthritis, and if you’re staying inside during the winter because of arthritic pain, you aren’t getting the dose of vitamin D you’d normally get from natural light. Taking a supplement during the winter months can help.
4. Dress warm
A man bundled up for the cold | McIninch/ iStock/ Getty Images
Of course, you can’t avoid the outside for the entire winter. So when you have to brave the elements, it’s imperative to dress as warm as possible. And we aren’t just talking about bulky winter jackets. Heavy gloves and leg warmers are musts if you suffer from arthritis during the colder months of the year.
5. Wear layers
Sweaters in the closet | iStock.com/Jelena990
Bundling up to protect yourself doesn’t mean strictly wearing heavy clothing that will make you a sweaty mess the second you’re in a toasty spot. Take a cue from Everyday Health and consider layering everything from your sweaters to multiple pairs of gloves so you stay at a comfortable temperature while trying to manage your arthritis
6. Wear supportive shoes
Orthopedic insole | Angelika-Angelika/ iStock/ Getty Images
If arthritis attacks your knees, ankles, and feet, walking around can be especially painful when the temperatures plummet. Orthopedic insoles can help take the pressure off your joints. Consider buying multiple pairs and putting them in all of your footwear — even in your slippers, if you don’t plan on leaving the house.
7. Watch your weight
Woman stepping on a scale | FotoCuisinette/iStock/Getty Images
You’re probably already watching your diet and trying to exercise at the start of the new year with all the decadence of holiday eating in the rear-view mirror. But losing weight and keeping it off can also help with your arthritis pain. “Research has shown us that a 5% to 10% reduction of body weight can dramatically reduce joint pain and improve exercise tolerance,” VeryWellHealth.com tells us.
8. Add fish oil
fish oil capsules | iStock.com/Ls9907
“One-to-three grams of fish oil each day can help reduce the intensity of joint symptoms like morning stiffness, tenderness, swelling, and discomfort,” the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center explains. “The omega-3 fatty acids present in this amount can also increase blood flow throughout the body during exercise, which can help reduce joint pain and swelling.”
9. Consider getting a massage
Therapists doing calf massage on couple | iStock.com/ karelnoppe
Rheumatologist Bonita S. Libman tells Everyday Health not all the pain you feel is coming from your arthritic joints. “A lot of what’s happening in terms of pain is some is emanating from the joint and some from the muscles around the joint,” Libman summarizes. In this case, an hour-long massage can help reduce some of that pain and discomfort.
10. Try a new supplement
Supplements | iStock.com/monticelllo
Libman tells Everyday Health that, even though no herbal supplement has 100-percent proven to rid the body of arthritic pain, she has patients who have had success reducing it by taking glucosamine-chondroitin. “What I tell my patients is, if they can afford to pay for it and they want to give it a try, it seems to be a low-risk therapy for pain,” she explains.
11. Make warm water your friend
Swimming pool | Tirachard/Getty Images
Since we already recommended working out indoors, why not give an indoor swimming pool a try? The Arthritis Foundation says soaking in warm water can help relieve joint pain, while a bit of swimming helps to work your joints and give you the exercise you need.
12. Consider NSAIDs
NSAIDs drugs | Fahroni/ iStock/ Getty Iamges
Everyday health reiterates if you prefer lifestyle changes to take over-the-counter pain meds, that’s totally fine. Should you choose to give these pain meds a try, Libman recommends starting with a low dose and consulting a doctor before using anything long-term.
13. Stretch regularly
Stretching | Eggeeggjiew/iStock/Getty Images
Harvard Health explains that the “less you move your joints, the less likely they’ll maintain their full range of motion. Over time, the surrounding muscles can shorten, making it that much harder to keep moving. That can lead to a host of other problems, including weight gain, difficulty walking, and poor balance.” They suggest talking to your doctor about a stretching routine, particularly one you can do at your least painful point during the day.
14. Take it easy
Aching joints | seb_ra/ iStock / Getty Images Plus
Yes, you’ve just been told to exercise and stretch and do all these active things to help aleviate your arthritis pain this winter. But that doesn’t mean you should push through activities if it’s just too painful. Talk to your doctor about extablishing boundaries for all your activities so your pain will eventually reduce, intead of getting worse.
15. Avoid processed foods
Junk food | JaysonPhotography/iStock/Getty Images
Long story short: Fried and processed foods contain components that cause inflammation. Cut out the fried meats and frozen TV dinners this winter as you manage to minimize your arthritis pain.
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