If you have arthritis, there’s a good chance your joints can predict snow and rain more accurately than your local meteorologist.
At MidJersey Orthopaedics, we specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis. Our team has extensive experience helping people manage their arthritis in the long-term, especially in the cold winter months that likely worsen joint pain.
There are hundreds of types of arthritis that affect the health and function of your joints. The two most common types are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease, where wear-and-tear breaks down the cartilage in your joints. Cartilage protects your joints and prevents the bones from rubbing together with each of your movements.
As the cartilage wears away, the rubbing together of bones causes friction that triggers inflammation, pain, and limited range of motion in the affected joint.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes your immune system to mistakenly attack otherwise healthy joint tissue.
The attack causes persistent inflammation in the tissues that line your joint and, over time, can progress to joint deformities and chronic pain.
How winter impacts your joint health
Cold weather can have a significant impact on the health and function of any of the joints in your body. There are even studies from the Arthritis Foundation® that show the lower barometric pressure during the winter months results in more joint stiffness and pain for people with arthritis.
As cold weather increases joint pain, you may find that you’re less mobile in the winter months and live a lower quality of life than usual.
In addition to following the treatment plan our team at MidJersey Orthopaedics creates for managing your arthritis, there are things you can also do each winter to increase your comfort.
5 wintertime tips for managing arthritis
To keep your joints flexible and healthy despite the cold, we recommend the following tips for managing arthritis in the winter:
1. Watch what you eat
If you eat too many sweet foods, especially during the holiday season, you may be at an increased risk for rheumatoid arthritis flare-ups. While you don’t have to totally opt out of holiday treats, try to follow a healthy diet most of the time to keep your arthritis under control.
2. Manage your stress
The wintertime holidays can increase your stress levels, which in turn can aggravate your arthritis. Before the holiday madness begins, try to plan out your shopping and cooking goals so you don’t overdo it.
You should also practice breathing exercises and other relaxation techniques to conquer the holiday rush.
3. Dress in layers
One of the best ways to reduce the effect the cold air has on your joints is to dress in warm layers. Make sure to wear gloves to protect the joints in your hands and fingers.
Compression gloves and other garments can also improve blood circulation to keep your joints nice and warm when it’s cold outside.
4. Rest up
The winter months are a great time to snuggle up under warm blankets and catch up on your sleep.
Getting eight or more hours of sleep every night can help improve your overall health and keep your joints functioning optimally.
5. Indulge in warm baths
On the coldest days, a good soak in a hot tub or warm bath can relieve joint stiffness and aching.
If you have access to a heated, indoor pool at an area gym or other facility, it’s a great way to keep up with your physical fitness without putting unnecessary pressure on your joints.
If you need help managing arthritis, schedule a consultation online, or call the MidJersey Orthopaedic office nearest you today.