As we head into winter, most people with arthritis already know what they’re facing. Cold weather makes their joints hurt more, exercise becomes more painful and even sleeping is difficult because it’s hard to keep warm at night without putting pressure on sore joints.
Arthritis pain tends to be worse in the winter. Why? Experts aren’t sure, but there are some theories. Many rheumatologists believe that cold weather can exacerbate pain by changing the way your body uses energy. The incidence of arthritis is highest during the cold season, because the cooler temperatures lead to more joint stiffness. In addition, there is less daylight and people spend more time indoors.
Control arthritis during winter
Arthritis can make it difficult to get around during the winter months, with all the snow, ice and brutal cold. But there’s no need to let the weather be an obstacle — take a few steps to help keep your arthritis in check:
- Warm-up before going outdoors If you are planning on spending time outdoors in cold weather, take some precautions beforehand: Wear layers of loose clothing that can trap warm air against your skin; wear warm socks; and bring hand and foot warmers with you if your arthritis symptoms are severe.
- Wear supportive shoes. The right footwear can mean the difference between chronic pain and comfort. Choose shoes that provide good arch support and shock absorption, as well as warmth and waterproofing. Special winter boots can be a good option for people who don’t like wearing extra layers of clothing.
- Stay active during cold weather. Warm-up with a slow walk, then follow with fast walking or other mild exercise such as swimming or cycling (choose an indoor pool or stationary bike if inclement weather is an issue). If you haven’t exercised lately, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.