Arthritis patients or those who suffer with joint pain may have noticed the onset of wintery, cold and wet weather making joints ache more than usual. While it’s not precisely clear why this happens, it can add an extra burden on top of the miserable weather. So what can you do to help? Consultant Rheumatologist Dr Rod Hughes advised Express.co.uk on the best treatment methods.
Dr Hughes explained: “People who suffer from arthritis may experience increased pain and stiffness during colder months. This may be because low barometric pressure has a physical impact on the joints or that it encourages inflammation making joint movement more painful.
“In addition, during cold weather, the body focuses on circulating blood around the core and major organs and away from muscles and joints. As a result, the joints may seem less flexible.”
He recommended four easy steps to help ease aches and pains and keep you feeling your best this winter, whatever the temperature.
The heat is on
Stiff, tense, and sore muscles can be relaxed and relieved with a little heat, and joints are no different.
Dr Hughes advised: “Try a heat pack or a warm bath to help soothe stiff joints and relax the muscles around the joints.
“Use heat application for at least 15 minutes before exercise and then again immediately following exercise – as well as every time you need additional relief from nagging joint pain.”
Keep fit and well
Regular exercise is great for keeping joints healthy and supple, so don’t let the cold weather turn you into a couch potato, said Dr Hughes.
He added: “Perhaps try low impact indoor exercises such as swimming, yoga or walking on a treadmill.
“Exercise not only loosens and lubricates stiff joints, but helps prevent winter weight gain that puts more stress on painful joints.”
Supplement your diet
Dr Hughes said: “There is a large body of evidence supporting the use of GOPO – a natural anti-inflammatory compound derived from rose-hip – to reduce joint pain.
“Studies suggest GOPO can relieve joint pain and improve joint mobility in both sufferers of arthritis and active healthy adults.”
Lift your mood
Lower mood during the winter months can mean that your pain feels worse, as your perception of pain can change if you’re feeling more depressed, explained Dr Hughes.
He added: “It’s important to carry on doing things throughout the winter months that you know give you a ‘lift’ usually, whether it’s spending plenty of time with friends, treating yourself, or carrying on favourite hobbies.
“Regular exercise is also helpful in boosting your mood and overall wellbeing.
“If you’re struggling with low mood, you can also see your GP for further advice.”