Feeling the cold weather in your joints? Here are a few tips on managing your Osteoarthritis in the colder fall and winter months.
With the holiday season upon us, the air is getting crisper, colder, and - for us in the Vancouver area - wetter. If you have Osteoarthritis, some of you may be feeling this change in temperature in your muscles and joints. But can cold weather actually affect your Osteoarthritis?
While the scientific community is indecisive about whether or not cold weather can actually change your Osteoarthritis symptoms, one thing is for sure: the cold weather can make people less likely to get outside and keep active, which can lead to less limber, stiff joints.
Here are some tips to help you stave off cold weather Osteoarthritis.
Wanting to escape the winter chill is understandable, but it shouldn’t be an excuse from being active. One of the best methods to ease your Osteoarthritis pain is to keep moving. It’s important to fight through the desire to rest your body when it’s hurting because, the less sedentary you are, the more likely it is your body will have good physical function. If the cold is too much, try coming up with a low-impact indoor exercise plan. Swimming, using an elliptical machine, or going for a walk at the mall are all great ways to stay active indoors.
When you’re warmer, your blood vessels expand and your blood flow is increased. Increased blood flow can help with Osteoarthritis symptoms by bringing more oxygen and nutrients to your cartilage, which will help prolong the function and longevity of your joints, relaxing tight muscles, and easing stiffness. So, if you do decide to go outside, dress warmly and layer up to keep the chills away.
This tip is so good it applies to any time of the year, even when it's warm outside! Incorporating simple stretches into your daily routines can help to ease your Osteoarthritis pain by lubricating your joints and by improving your flexibility, mobility, and range of motion. Try doing a small yoga or pilates routine every day to help you get in the habit of stretching out your body.
Taking a warm bath, shower, or going for a swim in a heated pool are all great ways to relax your joints and increase your blood flow. Warm water is comforting and the heat will help to relax your stiff joints. When it’s time to leave the bath and go back into the cold, take your time and let your body acclimatize slowly to help your joints with the transition.
Being overweight increases the weight on joints such as the knee and hips and can increase the rate of cartilage breakdown. It’s tempting to hibernate inside next to a fire with a christmas cookie during the holidays, but keep in mind that a healthy weight can help decrease the stress put on your joints and thereby relieve some of your Osteoarthritis symptoms.
If the weather is getting colder where you are and you're starting to feel it in your joints, plan ahead! Pull out those warm sweaters, plan warm showers, and get your body moving - your joints will thank you.
Looking for more information on how to manage your Osteoarthritis symptoms? Helping my Arthritis offers current education and treatment options around first and second-line physiotherapy for hip and knee osteoarthritis patients around Surrey, Delta, and Vancouver BC. With the recent growth in telehealth options, we are able to now offer osteoarthritis management programs to patients living anywhere in BC! Reach out today to learn more about how to help your arthritis, call 604 306 0127 or email to consult with Nadine, the physiotherapist behind Helping My Arthritis.