Dealing With Arthritis in the Winter

February 23, 2019

Person walking outside in the snow
Erin Ollila

As the months continue to get colder, individuals who suffer from arthritis in the winter begin to feel their joints tense up. There's no need to suffer from stiff joints all winter long. While there might not be a precise explanation for why this happens, there are ways to get arthritis relief during the cold weather months. Here are five ways to prevent or potentially alleviate pain this winter.

Get Active

Remaining sedentary may lead to stiff joints, worsening your arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation reports that "exercise eases arthritis pain, increases strength and flexibility, and boosts your energy." Don't let the cold weather hold you back from moving your body. Instead, dress in loose layers, stay hydrated and take safety precautions, especially if you're getting your activity outdoors. If you're anxious about the weather, adjust your fitness routine for indoor activity. A treadmill and small weights are great tools for getting exercise in your own home, but if you're feeling social, walk around the mall or find out what time open swim is at your local indoor pool.

Dress Warmly

Managing your temperature is one of the first steps to getting some arthritis relief. However, this doesn't mean walking around in a snowsuit all day. In an article for the Arthritis Foundation, Heidi V. Freeman, Ph.D., an assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, says, "'The best way to beat the chill is by wearing layers.'" This gives your body the opportunity to adjust to changes in environment. A scarf and light sweater will help with indoor heat changes, and a hat and gloves are important if you'll be outdoors.

Consider Supplements and Pain Relievers

Before adding any supplements or pain relievers to your daily routine, make sure to consult with your doctor. Calcium, vitamin D, fish oil, and Glucosamine-Chondroitin are all common supplements individuals with arthritis take for joint pain prevention. Similarly, pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or NSAIDS, like ibuprofen, may be helpful to alleviate some pain. If over-the-counter pain medications are your choice, try to take the lowest dose and don't use longer than the recommended dosage. Your doctor is the only person who knows your health and your current medicines well enough to help you make the decision if supplements, pain relievers or anything else can be helpful.

Massage or Acupuncture

"'Massage can result in a significant reduction in pain' for people with all types of arthritis,'" reports Tiffany Field, Ph.D., a research psychologist at the University of Miami Medical School in an article for the Arthritis Foundation. Make it a biweekly winter habit to relax your body during an hour-long professional massage. Acupuncture is another potential tool to help with arthritis. Cleveland Clinic reports that it's a viable option to getting arthritis relief year round — but the cold weather months might make acupuncture even more necessary.

Take a Bath

For years, baths have been said to help ease many different forms of stiffness and pain, so why not try to alleviate your arthritis in the winter by soaking in your tub at the end of a long day? Water reduces the force of gravity on your joints, allowing temporary arthritis relief when the weather is cold. For an even better experience, add Epsom salts to your warm water, which will help your body get more magnesium.

Regardless of what option you choose, know that you don't have to live in pain with arthritis in the winter. There are steps you can take to both prevent and alleviate pain that comes with your arthritis. Don't be nervous to try something new. You never know what will help you the most!

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