Cooler temperatures and a slight crispness to the air signal the exciting start of fall, but not everyone is jumping for joy at the smell of pumpkin spice and falling leaves. If you’re like many arthritis sufferers, weather changes that accompany fall may bring with them more joint pain and inflammation.
Why exactly? Well, there isn’t a definitive answer as to this link, however, research seems to suggest that changes in the barometric pressure in the atmosphere could trigger joint stress that exacerbates symptoms. Cold weather, especially when combined with damp air during or after a bout of rain, could amplify aches and joint stiffness.
If you find yourself struggling with arthritis flare-ups during cold weather, don’t miss this essential list of helpful tips to manage (and prevent) symptoms:
It’s always a good idea to wear appropriate cold-weather gear when heading outside into cold weather. In addition to scarves, earmuffs, and thick socks, gloves will play an important role in your arthritis-friendly wardrobe, especially for seniors with rheumatoid arthritis. Therapy compression gloves specifically provide targeted compression for pain relief in the joints of the fingers, hand, and wrist. Gloves and thick socks also help trap heat in the hands and feet which can soothe achy joints and combat stiffness too.
Wearing clothing in layers during cold weather months isn’t just important for staying warm. It also equips you with more control over your body temperature. Too often, seniors will wear big bulky clothing when heading out into brisk fall weather and end up overheating and sweating underneath. The moisture of the sweat can make your clothes damp which in turn will make you colder, especially if the temperature outside drops further or you encounter any wind.
Light, breathable layers of clothing, on the other hand, allow you to remove and replace shirts and jackets as needed to maintain an even body temperature, even when you start to warm up with activity or cool down.
Get a Massage
Massage has long been used as a method of pain relief for arthritis sufferers. Not only can manual manipulation of soft tissues in and around a joint help boost blood circulation, but massage has also been shown to improve flexibility and joint range of motion. For colder weather months, consider getting a massage that incorporates heat whether it’s with warm towels, heated lotion, or hot stones.
Eat Warming Foods
It’s not just what you do on the outside of your body that can aid bad weather arthritis flare-ups, it’s what you put on the inside that counts tool. Foods with naturally-occurring thermogenic properties actually have the ability to raise your body’s internal temperature. These include common arthritis supplements like turmeric, cayenne, and ginger as well as citrus foods like oranges which have been shown in some studies to relax and widen blood vessels. Blood vessels that make it easier for blood to flow have been shown to slightly increase body temperature.
Use Helpful Tools
If cold and blustery weather hurts your joints to a point where you are limited in the daily tasks you can comfortably do, consider investing in helpful ease-of-use tools like:
Handle grippers - make your hard-to-hold instruments like cutlery, toothbrushes, and pens easier to use by covering them with handle grippers, or covers that give thin utensils a wider, grippier surface area.
Reacher grabber - solve the problem of diminished dexterity due to arthritis flare-ups by using a reacher-grabber tool. Wide hand grips and long extension handles allow you to pick things up, grab, pinch, and move items up high or down low with ease.
Dressing aids - climbing out from under your warm covers to get dressed on a cool morning can be tough. Utilize dressing aids like button hooks, zipper pulls, and shoehorns to give yourself an upper hand.
Wear Waterproof Shoes
Don’t make the mistake of heading outside during the fall in warm boots that aren’t waterproof. Even dry fall days can quickly be disrupted by fast-moving storms that bring lots of wind and rain. Warm feet only stay warm if they are dry. Waterproof shoes ensure that your feet stay dry, and therefore your entire body retains heat, especially if you are exercising outside with a hike or bike ride.
Cold, damp, painful feet and leg joints not only feel terrible but they can increase your risk for falling as well, and as you know, seniors are already high fall risks so why increase your chances?
Finally, one of the most significant ways to combat weather-related arthritis pain is to keep exercising. Don’t let cold weather prevent you from getting your daily workout in. Instead, find indoor exercise options you can do like taking a yoga class or swimming in a heated pool. Your body will thank you!