Winter has made its appearance in Cache Valley, which can be bad news for many individuals. From slippery sidewalks and aching joints, winter is especially rough on those who have arthritis. The good news is that winter doesn’t have to be a season of misery. Below are a few tips on how to stay healthy and manage your arthritis pain during the winter months.
- Stay active. Exercise is crucial for individuals living with arthritis. Physical activity helps ease pain, increase strength and flexibility, and boost energy. Participating in at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week, as well as two weekly sessions of strength training, is a great way to ease the symptoms associated with arthritis. If the cold weather is preventing you from exercising and you are experiencing pain and fatigue, try participating in online workout videos, walking around a heated store, or consider purchasing a gym membership.
- Get your yearly flu shot. Even the healthiest people can be affected by the flu, but those with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and other autoimmune forms of arthritis are at an even greater risk of infections like the flu. Both arthritis itself, which compromises how well your body fights off infections, and certain medications used to control the disease, can make the flu season riskier for individuals dealing with arthritis.
- Keep warm. Keeping your body warm boosts blood flow which helps flush out pain-producing chemicals and stimulates receptors in your skin that improves pain tolerance. Warmth also relaxes muscles to decrease spasms and reduce stiffness. There are many ways to reap the benefits of heat therapy including:
– A warm shower or bath
– Heating pads
– Electric blankets
– Single-use hand and feet warmers
– Dressing in appropriate clothing (coats, gloves, socks, etc.)
- Sidestep slippery ground. Winter conditions can make it tricky to maintain your footing when you head outdoors, but there are a few precautions you can take to stay safe:
– Wear shoes with traction
– Avoid snow stairs or sloped ground
– Stay on cleared sidewalks
– Consider a cane or walker
- Get plenty of vitamin D. It can be difficult to get enough vitamin D in the winter as it’s produced when your skin is exposed to the sun. Even though your body can store levels of vitamin D throughout the seasons, research shows that people are often deficient in the winter. This is especially true for inflammatory arthritis patients, as low vitamin D levels are associated with pain sensitivity. Good dietary sources of vitamin D include fatty fish such as swordfish, mackerel, salmon, and tuna, and fortified products like orange juice, milk, and breakfast cereals. Cod liver oil is also an excellent
source of vitamin D. Talk to your doctor about testing your levels of vitamin D to be sure you are receiving the appropriate amounts.
If you are dealing with arthritis pain and would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Hicken, give us a call at 435-787-2000.