Arthritis refers to a variety of chronic conditions that cause inflammation of the joints and the tissues around it. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which causes the cartilage that protects the bone ends to break down.
Winter is the hardest time for people living with arthritis as the symptoms tend to worsen due to the extremely cold temperatures. Older people, even those without arthritis, are more likely to develop the condition as the cold weather sets in.
Here are some of the reasons why arthritis tends to worsen in winter:
- Drop in temperatures causes the muscles and joints to stiffen
- Pain receptors normally become more sensitive during the cold season
- The frequency of muscle spasms increases during winter
- The cold conditions reduce blood flow to the limbs further increasing pain
- Lack of sunlight means reduced vitamin D intake hence weaker bones
- Drop in atmospheric pressure causes tension between joints, leading to increased pain
No doubt, winter is the harshest month for arthritis patients. Fortunately, you can reduce the symptoms of arthritis during winter using the following tips.
Wear warm clothes
One of the easiest ways to find relief in the winter is to wear warm clothes. Dress warmly or in layers to keep the cold at bay. Fabrics such as wool, faux fur, hemp, and mohair are the ideal materials for winter clothing. Make sure that you cover all arthritis prone areas, including your hands, legs, and knees.
As unbelievable as it might seem, drinking water and staying hydrated during winter can help reduce symptoms of arthritis. By staying hydrated, you will be able to remain active throughout the day. This goes a long way to reduce your sensitivity to pain.
Keep warm and cozy
Whether you are watching a Christmas movie or sleeping, you should keep yourself warm at all times. Apart from dressing warmly, you can use a hot water bag, an electric heating pat, or an electric blanket to keep warm and cozy throughout the night. Electric pads are great for treating stiff joints and muscles caused by the cold weather.
Arthritis patients should stay as active as possible during winter. The best part is that you do not have to do strenuous activities. Simple indoor exercises such as pushups, sit-ups, swinging kettlebells, and climbing up and down the stairs can help alleviate arthritis symptoms such as stiff joints and muscles.
Take Vitamin D supplements
With reduced sunlight during winter comes Vitamin D deficiency. This might increase the risk of developing serious conditions like osteoporosis. The good news is that you can make up for the low Vitamin D levels by taking over-the-counter supplements. Your physician should be able to recommend the best options for your condition.
Have a warm bath
Having a warm bath can be soothing to your stiff joints and sore muscles. If you prefer to swim, make sure you do so in heated swimming pools.
Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids
Your diet during winter is equally important. If you want to reduce inflammation and prevent swelling, make sure that you eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as fish, walnuts, avocado, and flaxseeds.
By following the above tips, you are sure to enjoy a fulfilling winter season without experiencing the harrowing pain associated with arthritis.
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