Marin Health Tips: 7 Ways to Cope with Arthritis This Winter
December 13, 2016
We’re lucky in Marin – no below zero temps, blizzards or snowdrifts to slow us down in winter. But if you have arthritis, even our brand of cold, damp weather can bring on pain and stiffness.
Can you predict rain? More than 60% of osteoarthritis sufferers feel achiness in their joints when a storm is coming. Rain and cold are just part of the equation. Studies show a drop in barometric pressure can also be responsible for your soreness.
And since winter keeps us from regular hiking and bike riding, our bodies complain about the lack of movement as well. Here are some ways to cope.
Your toolbox for managing arthritis
An electric or microwavable heating pad – lay heat on the painful joint for 10 to 20 minutes. This helps bring blood to area, relaxes muscles and loosens ligaments.
Hot bath with Epsom salt – the healing combination of heat and Epsom salt is very soothing and relaxes whole body. Rich in magnesium, the Epsom salt helps draw out inflammation from the joints while the heat revs up blood circulation. I recommend soaking for 20 to 30 minutes, with four cups of the salt per bath.
Thera-Band exercises – I teach my patients therapeutic strengthening exercises, using stretchy bands for resistance. You can stabilize the joint by building the muscle surrounding it.
Swimming – one of the best exercises for osteoarthritis is swimming. Whether it’s swimming laps or taking an aqua therapy class, it’s wonderful, no-impact movement for joints. A few of the local places that offer classes:
Gentle, non-forced chiropractic adjustment – taking into account the discomfort of a compromised joint, I make very gentle adjustments to take pressure off of inflamed nerves and create more movement. Whether your mild to moderate arthritis comes from injury, aging or genetic predisposition, you can benefit from chiropractic.
Eat anti-inflammatory foods – concentrate on eating fruits, veggies and chicken vs. beef. Limit wheat and alcohol. Try to avoid sugar, diet sodas and artificial sweeteners.
Health supplements – turmeric, a relative of ginger, is an effective anti-inflammatory supplement available in capsules. Be aware that high doses can act as a blood thinner and cause stomach upset. My own wellness formulation, Total Amino Solution, is designed to reduce pain and inflammation around the joint, as well as address other health issues including stress, anxiety, panic and insomnia.
If you sustain a joint injury, treat it early with exercise and chiropractic so it doesn’t become arthritic. While arthritis generally develops over a long period, it can appear as early as six months to a year after an injury.