You may know somebody who claims that they can feel it in their bones when the weather is about to turn. If you’ve always thought that was an old wives’ tale (or just a plain lucky guess), it turns out they could be telling the truth. While there’s no obvious medical reason, changes in temperature and air pressure can actually affect the bones and joints of arthritis sufferers and cause pain and stiffness, especially over winter.
Arthritis is inflammation in the joints. Although inflammation is normally part of the body’s healing process, in arthritis sufferers it can occur for no medical reason, leading to tender and painful swelling.
It is estimated that more than 50 million adults suffer from some form of arthritis. In the UK alone, around 8 million people are affected by osteoarthritis, and 400,000 have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, a progressive type of the disease which can result in deformity and immobility in the fingers, wrists, feet and ankles. Signs of arthritis are usually present in people aged 40-50, with women three times as likely to develop the disease.
A common misconception is that arthritis only causes joint pain, but sufferers may also notice other symptoms, like:
- Flu-like symptoms
Many arthritis sufferers complain that the cold weather makes their symptoms worse, and even though there isn’t a scientific explanation, studies have shown that a 10 degree drop in temperature can adversely affect the joints and muscles.
How Can You Relieve the Pain of Arthritis over Winter?
Keep Warm. This is especially important for your extremities and for areas more susceptible to aching joints, like your hands and feet. Keeping your head warm will help your body to retain more heat, which should in turn help your joints and muscles to stay mobile and flexible. Have you seen the CareCo range of heated clothing? The Comfi Foot Warmer will soothe tender ankles while you’re relaxing at home. Warm baths and heat and massage products could also help with arthritis symptoms. A good quality electric blanket is also a great way to keep warm all night long.
Stay Active. Easier said than done, especially when you’re feeling the effects of aching joints, but keeping mobile is crucial for easing the pain in inflamed joints. If the bad weather is keeping you indoors, a pedal exerciser will help you to flex those stiff joints and get the blood flowing. Some, like the Aidapt Electric Circulation & Muscle Exerciser, can be programmed for exercise duration and speed settings.
Eat Well. We should all try and stick to a healthy diet over winter to ensure that we get all the vitamins we need to stay healthy. If you suffer from arthritis, excess weight can strain your back, spine and joints, and exacerbate the symptoms. Why not combine some winter vegetables into a soup so you can keep warm as well as healthy? There’s also evidence to suggest that even mild hydration can make you more sensitive to pain, so make sure you drink enough water throughout the day.
Manage Stress. Stress can lead to increased muscle tension, which will in turn lead to increased arthritic pain in swollen joints. A comfortable riser recliner chair could be a relaxing addition to your sitting room, and might even help soothe the symptoms of arthritis.
Arthritis can be an uncomfortable and debilitating ailment, and many find that the cold weather worsens their symptoms. We hope the above advice helps you to get those stiff joints mobile until the sunshine makes a welcome return!