You’re not just imagining it: you really can feel winter’s chill in your bones — especially if you’re among the 45 million Americans who have arthritis. Coping with this often debilitating disease can be even more challenging when the weather turns cold, making joints feel even more stiff and painful.
In fact, rheumatoid arthritis that first appears in the winter or spring may be more severe than arthritis that emerges in summer and fall, according to a French study of arthritis patients. In addition to cold temperatures associated with winter, viruses — which are more prevalent during winter — may play a part in the increased severity of winter-onset arthritis, the study concluded.
But winter’s chill shouldn’t drive you indoors until the spring thaw. Just the opposite, says the Web site AthritisToday.org. Walking outside in the winter has many health benefits for arthritis sufferers, including burning calories and helping you feel positive and motivated, the site says. Plus, inactivity is often associated with an increase in pain.
So how can you stay active and manage your arthritis this winter? Here are a few tips:
Stay warm and dry
Dampness and cold exacerbate arthritis pain. Dress warmly and avoid dampness. If you live in an area with particularly damp weather, equip your home with a dehumidifier to take excess moisture out of the air.
When walking outside, wear warm, waterproof footgear and gloves. Layer your clothes for warmth and breathability, and choose fabrics that wick moisture away from your skin.
“Use it or lose it” definitely applies to arthritis sufferers. Exercise can help keep joints moving, strengthen muscles connected to joints, preserve bone health, and improve your overall health and fitness, according to www.Arthritis.org, the Web site of the not-for-profit Arthritis Foundation.
If you are less active during winter, arthritis can cause even the smallest movement to be painful. Maintain your prescribed exercise regimen, under your doctor’s guidance, as much as possible during winter months. The movement will help fight off the stiffness that cold weather brings to your joints.
See your doctor regularly throughout the winter and consider using aids that are designed to help ease arthritis pain in the colder months.
Keep to your diet
Our diets tend to become “heavier” in colder weather as our bodies instinctively crave warmth-generating and fat-building fare to help us stay warmer. But it’s important to maintain a healthy diet throughout the winter. Controlling excess weight, which puts undue strain on already sore joints, is a key element of managing your arthritis. Also, talk to your doctor or a qualified nutritionist about what nutritional supplements might be helpful in minimizing your pain.
Courtesy of ARAcontent