Winter aches and pains

In the UK, around 10 million people have arthritis, and many sufferers say that the cold winter weather makes their joints more painful.

Even though there’s no medical evidence that changes in the weather cause joint damage, we do know that joint symptoms such as pain and stiffness can be affected.

Easing your symptoms

Medicines

If you are taking medicine prescribed by your doctor, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroids, make sure you have enough tablets to see over the winter period, especially over Christmas and New Year when your usual GP surgery or pharmacy may be closed. Your local pharmacist will also be able to advise you on the types of analgesics (painkillers) that can help too.

Exercise

Regular exercise will help with stiffness. Swimming is ideal because it is easy on the joints. Try taking a gentle walk, making sure you wrap up warmly and wear footwear with a good grip if conditions underfoot are icy.

Because of the shorter, darker days, many people get a little depressed during the winter months and this can make you perceive pain more acutely. Everything feels worse, including medical conditions. Daily exercise can not only boost your physical health but your mental state too.

Baths

There are many natural remedies that can help to ease aches and pains and joint stiffness such as that caused by conditions like arthritis. Taking a long bath with a few drops of relaxing essential oils can help. After a long bath it may help to give all the joints in your body some attention, massaging them with a body oil or cream.

Epsom salts are high in magnesium which can help relieve joint pain. Before bed, dissolve three teacups of Epsom salts into a bath of comfortably hot water. Soak in the bath for 10 to 15 minutes, whilst slowly exercising your joints and muscles in the water.

Footwear

Every step we take puts pressure on our knee joints so pay attention to the kind of footwear you choose.

Try and keep high heels for special occasions. An American study compared the impact of different types of footwear on the knees and found that flat shoes with flexible soles, such as trainers and even flip-flops, were the kindest on joints. 

Kick off your shoes as soon as you get home. Stretch your toes and walk around barefoot.

Support groups

Support groups, such as Arthritis Research UK and Arthritis Care offer information, advice and support for people living with arthritis.

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