How to Winterize Your Arthritis Treatment Plan
Winter is right around the corner and you know what that means… more aches and pains. Cold temperatures cause more joint stiffness. And winter storms can be predicted by how your joints feel. Because arthritis symptoms are worse during the wintertime, everyone that experiences osteoarthritis dreads the months between November and April. How can you winterize your arthritis treatment plan in order to survive?
Start by looking at your list of medications. Talk to your doctor about medication changes that could be made temporarily to get past the cold months. For example, if you are not taking a medication like Celebrex or Diclofenac to control inflammation, possibly adding a daily anti-inflammatory would be appropriate for you. If you are already taking medications to control pain, maybe increasing the dose or frequency during the winter would help you remain as active as possible.
Speaking of activity, do you know how to maintain your exercise program when it is cold and wet outside? Now is the time to start planning for indoor exercise. Instead of walking daily, you might want to look into indoor options like going to a shopping mall or even a grocery store to continue the walking program. Winterizing your home exercise program so that you will continue to exercise during the winter will help you maintain your fitness level, your weight, and your mental health. A program that is indoor, affordable, and convenient is critical to keep it going when it’s cold outside.
If you do plan to go outside, you should make some plans to prevent falls in the slippery conditions. Take a look at the lighting around the house and replace bulbs that are not working. Look at the condition of your handrails and add a handrail if needed. Good lighting and extra support are important ways to provide for your safety during the winter months. Because one slip and fall can greatly increase the amount of arthritis pain you experience, you will also want to get good winter shoes that can provide stability and traction when you need it. Please also remember to keep you pathways as clear as possible from snow and ice. This type vigilant care to prevent falls during the winter is an important part of any arthritis treatment plan.
One final winterizing touch for your arthritis treatment plan is to keep yourself warm. Remember cold temperatures stiffen the joints. But using everything from paraffin wax baths for your hands to wool socks for your feet will keep you warm from head to toe. Warmth keeps your joints moving as freely as possible. Some people have the luxury to temporarily leave the colder locations in the world to reside in warmer places during the winter. But most of us don’t have that luxury, so we keep the wood stove hot, pile on layers of clothes and survive the best we can with all our aches and pains.
So even though winter is around the corner, you do not need to despair just get prepared by winterizing your arthritis treatment plan. If you have any further suggestions, please feel free to share.
Christina Lasich, M.D., wrote about chronic pain and osteoarthritis for HealthCentral. She is physiatrist in Grass Valley, California. She specializes in pain management and spine rehabilitation.