5 Tips to Manage Arthritis in Cold Weather

Jan 04, 2024

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5 Tips to Manage Arthritis in Cold Weather

As the temperature drops here in the Central Valley region of California, you might find that the cold weather exacerbates your arthritis symptoms and increases both pain and stiffness. Our board-certified surgeons here at Sequoia Institute for Surgical Services are experts in chronic pain management and know many ways to reduce pain, including simple lifestyle modifications. 

Read on to learn five easy tips to manage arthritis in cold weather. 

1. Keep your joints warm

Keeping your joints warm is the best strategy to prevent cold weather discomfort. Dressing in layers can help do that. Choose thermal or moisture-wicking fabrics (such as merino wool) close to your skin, insulating layers for warmth, and waterproof outer layers to protect against the cold and/or precipitation.

Cover joints that are exposed to cold air. Wear gloves, knee sleeves, or joint-specific braces to provide warmth and support.

2. Continue to exercise

Exercise is good for arthritic joints, so don’t let cold weather keep you from getting the exercise you need. Engage in low-impact exercises to keep your joints active. Swimming, walking, and tai chi are excellent options that promote flexibility and strength without putting excessive stress on your joints.

On extremely cold days, skip the outdoor workout and head to the gym. Many community centers offer warm water pools and fitness classes that cater to people with arthritis.

3. Focus on hydration and nutrition

Believe it or not, dehydration is still a concern even in the colder winter months, and dehydration can contribute to joint pain. Men should aim to drink at least 15.5 cups of fluids, and women should consume at least 11.5 cups. Not all of that needs to be water, though. Part of this recommended amount comes from juice, broth, herbal tea, and even fruits and vegetables. As a rule, aiming for eight 8-ounce glasses of water is still good practice. 

In addition to fluids, focus on foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties in your diet. This may include fatty fish, nuts, berries, and dark, leafy green vegetables to help manage inflammation.

4. Try heat therapy

Soothe stiff joints with warm baths or showers. The heat helps relax your muscles and increase blood flow, relieving pain and stiffness. In addition to showers and baths, you can apply heat packs to specific areas of discomfort to offer localized relief. Use heating pads, hot water bottles, or microwaveable heat packs as needed.

5. Practice stress management

Chronic pain can make stress levels skyrocket and vice versa. Stress can exacerbate arthritis symptoms, and finding effective ways to manage it can help support your mental and physical health. Try stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga.

In addition to stress-reducing techniques, focus on sleep hygiene.  A lack of quality sleep can also make stress and pain worse. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine and create a comfortable environment to support restful sleep.

What to do if lifestyle modifications aren’t enough

Although these tips can help reduce arthritis pain and stiffness in cold weather, sometimes it’s just not enough to give you the relief you need. Our multidisciplinary team at Sequoia Institute for Surgical Services can help you manage arthritis with medication, injections, or surgery if needed.

Our experienced hand surgeons 一 Dr. Jonathan Liu and Dr. Huey Yuan Tien 一 or our board-certified podiatrist, Dr. James Teela, can provide the surgical intervention you need for arthritic hands, wrists, feet, or ankles here in Porterville, Reedley, and Visalia, California.

Don’t let arthritis zap your quality of life. Call the location of your choice or book your appointment online and say goodbye to arthritis pain 一 regardless of the weather!