Senior Health

1/25/2021 | By Rachel Marsh

With winter comes shorter days, colder temperatures, and – ah, yes – stiffer and more inflamed joints. For those living with arthritis (who can literally feel the winter in their bones), you know the detriments of arthritis pain in cold weather.

But just because it’s normal for your arthritis to get more achy when the temperatures lower, doesn’t mean it’s something you have to live with every year. As if the wintertime wasn’t bad enough! So we’ve put together six tips to help you best manage your arthritis pain in cold weather – and to stop it from preventing your daily activities.

1. Get That Body Moving

Yes, you’ve heard this one many times before. But the reason why everyone touts physical activity as one of the best forms of arthritis relief? Well – because it is! Exercising your body and stretching out your limbs increases strength, flexibility, and energy while decreasing pain. Particularly during the cruelest of the wintry months when joint pain is at an all-time high, your body will most benefit from some movement.

The Arthritis Foundation recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week. But if you’re new to exercise, or are in a lot of pain from your arthritis, go easy on yourself starting out.

2. Fuel Up with the Right Foods

Yet another tip that you’ve seen and heard countless times over the years when it comes to managing arthritis pain! But everything that you put into your body is going to affect it. And in the winter time – even after the holiday indulging is over – studies show that people are more likely to imbibe in heartier fare; and richer foods are more likely to spark an arthritic flare-up.

Try to cut back on the more traditional carb-laden and robust meals of the winter (although you don’t have to scale back completely because, we get it, it’s delicious); instead more space on your plate for arthritis-combatting cuisines such as fish, broccoli, oil, beans, and more.

3. Keep Your Joints Warm and Cozy

Shield your joints from that just-plain-mean winter weather that’s causing them so much discomfort. When you venture outside, be sure to bundle up as tightly as possible to keep the cold from causing further pain to your body. That includes all the usual suspects: warm gloves or mittens, ear muffs, hats, scarves, long johns – you know the drill.

And when you’re safely tucked away inside, keep that heat flowing; think of heat like the Achilles heel to arthritis. They just don’t get along.

Wrap any painful zones with a heating pad; nestle underneath an electric blanket on the couch; pour yourself a steaming mug of hot tea (and, what do you know, green tea is a great arthritis obstructor!).

Hot bath, anyone? Load it up with a smattering of luxurious epsom salt, light some candles (those are just for aesthetic although they might warm up your bathroom a smidge), and soak up those hot, hot benefits. Hopefully your arthritis will start to get the memo that it’s just not welcome anymore.

4. Vitamin D

This vitamin, which comes from sunlight, offers many perks like disease fighting and reduced depression. And during these short, cold winter days, it’s in high demand. A lack of vitamin D has various negative health effects like fatigue, anxiety, and increased illness. But for those living with arthritis, this can have even more downfalls; not getting enough of this “sunshine vitamin” can lead to increased levels and frequency of pain.

The good news? Though the most common way to absorb vitamin D is through sunlight, there are also vitamin supplements and foods to help boost it too: think salmon, cod liver oil, and egg yolks.

5. Squeeze Out Your Arthritis Pain in Cold Weather with Compression Gloves

If you have arthritis pain in your hands, a pair of compression gloves might just be your new best friend. Just like compression socks, these work by squeezing the joints to boost blood flow. In addition to blood flow, they also had heat – two things that arthritis hates.

6. Leave It to the Experts: Massage & Acupuncture 

But hey, at the end of the day, it’s wintertime. And yes, even though we have this very helpful guide on how to make the most of the dreary season – we know it’s a rough time of year. On top of all of the normal grievances that it brings, those living with arthritis also have to put up with additional pain.

Which is why it’s the perfect time to treat yourself to some wellness methods that, not only are shown to alleviate arthritis pain, but feel absolutely fantastic.

Massage, for example, is proven to have beneficial effects on arthritis. Acupuncture also has shown to offer respite to those living with joint inflammation (reports are scattered on this, mostly because research has been limited).

Granted, while both of these may be effective methods of pain relief, they are costly and therefore harder to maintain on a regular basis. But they still feel great – and if they add a little hyperbolic sunlight to your dreary winter days, that’s beneficial all on its own.

Rachel Marsh

Award-winning writer Rachel Marsh has written for many different sites and publications on a variety of topics. She is the multimedia editor for Seniors Guide and works hard to make sure seniors and their families have the best information possible. When she’s not writing for work, she can be found writing for fun. Really!

Rachel Marsh