Dr Ashish Arbat, Orthopedic & Joint Replacement Surgeon, Jehangir Multispeciality Hospitals, Pune
Arthritis is the inflammation of joints, a common chronic condition that causes pain, stiffness, and limited movement. It comes in various forms, such as osteoarthritis from joint wear and tear and rheumatoid arthritis as an autoimmune disease. Many arthritis sufferers notice worsening symptoms in cold weather. Did you know? Lower temperatures, atmospheric pressure shifts, and higher humidity levels could contribute to increased joint pain and stiffness for some people. In winter, the decrease in atmospheric pressure can result in swollen tissues, leading to increased tension between joints and subsequent pain. Additionally, the reduced blood flow to fingers and toes can exacerbate this discomfort.
Adhere to these tips for managing arthritis during the winter
• Engage in regular physical activity to ease arthritis symptoms, as it can enhance flexibility and build muscle strength. Opt for low-impact exercises such as swimming or cycling and ensure a proper warm-up before exercising.
• Keep your body warm by layering clothing to prevent muscle stiffness. Choose thermal materials and wear gloves, socks, and a hat to protect from the cold.
• Go for heat therapy to alleviate joint pain and stiffness by applying heat through heating pads, warm towels, or warm baths to promote muscle relaxation and improve blood circulation.
• Maintain a healthy body weight to reduce stress on your joints, which can alleviate arthritis symptoms and minimize pain.
• Stay well-hydrated by drinking enough water, which can help maintain joint lubrication and decrease inflammation. Aim to drink a minimum of 12 glasses of water daily.
• Get support. If arthritis makes daily tasks challenging, consider using supportive tools like canes, and walkers, to alleviate pressure on your joints. Opting for appropriate protective gear such as braces or splints can offer assistance to affected joints and alleviate discomfort.
• Add anti-inflammatory foods to your diet to combat arthritis-related inflammation. Incorporate omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods like fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, as well as antioxidant-packed fruits and vegetables such as berries and leafy greens.
• Sufficient rest is crucial for managing arthritis symptoms. Prioritize quality sleep and take breaks when necessary to prevent overexertion.
• Effective stress management techniques are vital in mitigating the impact of stress on arthritis symptoms. Consider incorporating practices like deep breathing exercises, meditation, or engaging in enjoyable hobbies into your routine.
• Stay in touch with the expert. Seeking advice from a medical professional, such as a doctor or rheumatologist, can assist in identifying the most effective approach, which may involve customized medications to alleviate arthritis symptoms in the winter.