With winter in full force, here come the dropping temperatures, brisk air, and of course a flair up of arthritis pain. The good news is the following tips can offer relief of aching joints from rheumatoid or osteoarthritis during the cold of winter weather.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water. One recent study shows that even mild dehydration can make you more sensitive to pain.1
- Continue to exercise during the winter months. While it is understandable to want to avoid the winter chill, it is important to stay active. Numerous studies abound showing the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle including a recent study that finds a more active lifestyle improves physical function for those with knee osteoarthritis.2 Come up with an indoor exercise plan or walk laps at the local mall. The important thing is to stay active.
- Take a warm bath to relieve aching joints. Swimming in a heated pool can also offer relief and is a great form of indoor exercise. After a soak or heated swim, remember to let you body temperature normalize before going straight out into the cold.
- Add a vitamin D supplement. Along with raising the risk of osteoporosis, one study finds that low levels of vitamin D play a role in pain severity in knee osteoarthritis.3 During the winter months, we are less likely to get enough vitamin D from its natural source, sunlight, so talk to your doctor about your need for a supplement.
- Dress warmly and add layers. Keep aching hands warm with gloves. Add extra layers over the knees and legs. Extra layers can be peeled off, one by one, as needed during the day as temperatures change.
- Lose weight. Arthritis symptoms will improve all around by shedding extra pounds and removing some added strain to the joints. This was highlighted in a 2013 study in The Journal of the American Medical Association. The research shows significant improvements in pain, function, quality of life and more in participants with knee arthritis.4
Most importantly, stay safe and healthy…and just remember these tips for arthritis pain relief despite the bone-chilling cold of winter weather.
- Perry B, Bear T, Lucas S, Mundel T. Mild dehydration modifies the cerebrovascular response to the cold pressor test. Experimental Physiology, 2015 Sep, doi: 10.1113/EP085449. [Epub ahead of print].
- Lee J, Chang R, Ehrlich-Jones L, et al. Sedentary behavior and physical function: objective evidence from the Osteoarthritis Initiative. Arthritis Care & Research, 2015 Mar; 67(3): 366-373.
- Glover T, Horgas A, Fillingim R, Goodin B. Vitamin D status and pain sensitization in knee osteoarthritis: a critical review of the literature. Pain Management, 2015 Nov; 5(6): 447-453.
- Messier S, Mihalko S, Legault C, et al. Effects of intensive diet and exercise on knee joint loads, inflammation, and clinical outcomes among overweight and obese adults with knee osteoarthritis: the IDEA randomized clinical trial. JAMA, 2013 Sep; 310(12): 1263-1273.