How to Survive Osteoarthritis in Winter ?
Arthritis is an inflammatory condition related to joints. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, and it occurs when the cartilage protecting the bony ends of a joint wears away. The tendons and ligaments must work hard due to the absence of cartilage protection, and if the cartilage is severely damaged, the bones rub against one another, resulting in friction. Eventually, it leads to swelling & inflammation.
A joint can also be affected by arthritis when parts of it are identified as ‘foreign’ threats, making it the target of the immune system – such as rheumatoid arthritis. Although older adults are more likely to suffer from arthritis, anyone can develop it.
Arthritis worsens in winter.
During the winter months, older people are most likely to experience joint pains and stiff muscles. As the winter months approach, the number of older adults looking for medical treatment for joint and bone problems increases by 50%. In some people who are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, symptoms like pain, inflammation, stiffness, weakness, and other symptoms related to rheumatoid arthritis become more challenging to manage during winter as the weather gets colder, the severity of joint pain increases.
Why does it happen?
The following factors can contribute to arthritis flare-ups in winter:
- In the winter weather, the pain receptors in our bodies tend to be more sensitive.
- Pain in the joints is due to the drop in atmospheric pressure. In low-pressure conditions, tissues swell and build up friction between joints resulting in pain.
- Colder temperatures tend to cause more muscle spasms, which makes joint pain and stiffness worse.
- In cold weather, blood circulation is decreased in different parts of the body, causing arthritis pain to be exaggerated.
- During winter, the amount of sunlight is reduced, which means you get less vitamin D, and it causes your bones and joints to be weakened.
How to find relief in the winters
Dress warmly – Choose clothing wisely based on the weather conditions in your area, consider wearing layers of clothes, or get warm winter clothing. Make sure to cover all your arthritis-prone regions, particularly the hands, knees, and legs.
Exercise – Although people with joint pains should stay away from cold weather, it’s important to remain active for people with joint pains. Indoor exercises are a very effective way to improve joint stiffness and muscle weakness.
Keep yourself warm & comfortable – Invest in an electric heat pack or arrange a hot water bag or a thick blanket to help keep you warm while taking a rest or sleeping. It is generally more beneficial to use heating pads for localized joint areas that become stiff and painful due to cold weather.
Stay hydrated – Staying hydrated means one should drink enough water to keep yourself active. Even a little dehydration can make you more sensitive to pain.
Take a warm bath – Swimming in a hot water pool is both beneficial for your joints and excellent exercise. Warm baths can also provide you with great relief.
Take Vitamin D supplements – low vitamin D levels could influence your sensitivity to arthritis pain. It is also possible to develop osteoporosis if you are deficient in vitamin D. Speak with a doctor for more information about vitamin D supplements.
Ensure you consume enough omega-3 fatty acids – Omega-3 fatty acids play a significant role in reducing joint inflammation. Include foods rich in omega-3 like avocado, flaxseeds, walnuts, and fish in your regular diet.
As long as you take these precautions to prevent arthritis, you can enjoy winter. However, if you are experiencing severe joint pain or any other discomfort due to arthritis, do consult Dr. Ajay Kumar Tiwari, an orthopedic expert in dealing with bone and joint problems effectively.