5 ways to find relief from winter arthritis woes
Ray Smith
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2023

5 ways to find relief from winter arthritis woes

As anyone with arthritis knows, when the weather turns cold, joints can become stiff and achy. Understanding what’s behind this can be really helpful to supporting your joint health and finding relief.

One of the reasons arthritis pain increases in the winter has to do with the fluid found in the joint. This fluid, or synovial fluid, basically works like motor oil in a car and keeps things lubricated and moving smoothly. But, when it gets cold, the fluid thickens and becomes almost sludge like. When that happens, you lose that smooth and easy movement and joints become stiff.

Another factor that contributes to increased pain in the winter months is inactivity. Exercise is the single best thing you can do to stave off arthritis pain at any time of year and is particularly important in the winter when the synovial fluid thickens. If your usual exercise choices are out of bounds due to snow, ice, or the cold, it’s extremely important to find other ways to stay active and moving. Look for indoor exercise programs or search the internet for stretching, yoga, or other fitness routines you can do safely in your home.

Other ways to find relief from winter arthritis pain include:

  1. Stay warm. If you’re going out into the cold, bundle up with gloves, hat, a warm coat, etc. At home, try using a heating pad or electric blanket to warm up your joints when relaxing or sleeping. If you have a tub, you can safely enter and exit on your own, you may want to try a hot bath to loosen things up.
  2. Drink water. Hydration is key flushing toxins out of your body, which can help fight inflammation throughout the body, including joints. Plus, when cartilage is well-hydrated, there’s less friction between it and the surrounding bones
  3. Stretch. Stretching can help loosen stiff joints. Even simple movements like rolling your wrists and ankles and stretching out your fingers, hands, and toes can offer relief.
  4. Eat well. Many foods can help fight inflammation and improve joint pain and other symptoms. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish, turmeric, nuts, and seeds, may help fight inflammation. 
  5. Maintain a healthy weight. The more weight you carry, the more pressure you place on your joints. Even losing just five pounds can provide a good bit of relief to weight-bearing joints such as your knees, hips, and spine.

If pain from arthritis continues to bother you in the winter—or even beyond—contact SVMC Orthopedics for a consultation.

 Ivette Guttmann, MD, is a sports medicine physician at SVMC Orthopedics in Bennington.

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