Survive winter with arthritis


If it hasn’t arrived where you live yet, rest assured that winter is on it’s way, and that can be bad news for people suffering from arthritis!

Science hasn’t really come up with a reason why the cold weather can make arthritis joint pain and stiffness worse, but there are a few possible explanations.  A fall in barometric pressure, which often occurs as a cold front sweeps its way in, can cause joints to expand, which may result in pain.  Also low temperatures may increase the thickness of the synovial fluid that acts as the joints’s shock absorber, which makes joints stiffer and more sensitive to pain.  It is thought that the pain receptors become more sensitive during the winter months and that the cold reduces the blood circulation to the fingers and toes, which exacerbates arthritis pain.

So we know why arthritis flares up in the winter months, but how do you manage arthritis pain during this time?  The good news is you don’t have to hibernate to help ease arthritis pain!

Here is some advice on how to help manage arthritis pain during the winter months.

Keep warm – Sounds obvious but heat really helps stiff joints.  It boosts blood flow to help flush out pain-producing chemicals and stimulates receptors in the skin that improve pain tolerance.  Warmth also relaxes muscles helping to reduce spasms and stiffness.

Stay active – Not surprisingly, people tend to move less in winter and many people with arthritis have significant pain and fatigue, which makes exercising challenging to begin with, however avoiding exercise because you are worried it will make your arthritis worse is a big misconception, in fact physical activity helps to ease pain, increase strength and flexibility and even boosts energy levels.

Dress appropriately – Try dressing in layers which can provide more warmth than a single heavy item.  Something made of lightweight wool is a good choice for the layer that’s next to your skin- it will trap warm, dry air so it will keep you nice and toasty!  A vest is also a good idea, by insulating your core, warmer blood is continually sent out to the body’s extremities.

Eat fatty fish – Fish such as mackerel, tuna and salmon are packed full of vitamin D.  It can be difficult to enough to get  vitamin D during the winter months.  It is produced when bare skin is exposed to sunlight, and even though the body can store levels of vitamin D throughout the seasons, research shows people are often deficient in the winter.

This can be really bad news for people suffering from inflammatory arthritis, as studies have shown that lower vitamin d levels are associated with sensitivity to pain.

Invest in compression gloves – Putting on accessories like hats, scarves, boots and gloves is really important as the majority of heat is lost from the body’s extremities. You might want to try out a pair of thermal compression gloves, they vary in style but some will emit or help trap heat to provide a warming sensation as well as providing compression to reduce swelling.  Most styles are fingerless, which makes them unsuitable for outdoors unless you slip another pair of gloves on over them.  Also mittens tend to be warmer than gloves because fingers generate more heat when they are not separated from each other .

Should you require any further information or would like to speak to a member of our team, please contact us on Hitchin 01462 420077 or Luton 01582 579687 alternatively e-mail us on or

Peter Heale Chiropractor in Hitchin and LutonFrom the team at Heale's Chiropractic Clinics
Over 30 years of helping people in Hitchin and Luton and the surrounding areas of Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire

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