If you are one of the 50 million adults in the U.S. that lives with arthritis, you may be feeling the effects of a Michigan winter in your joints. Arthritis pain often rises as the mercury level falls. What natural methods can older adults take to manage the pain of arthritis? Here are 9 suggestions for you to try:
- Find ways to keep moving. Even though it seems like the last thing you want to do when you are in pain, exercise is important for managing the pain of arthritis. Ice and snow might keep you from talking your daily walk during winter months. Consider investing in a treadmill or exercise bike to use during inclement days. Many senior centers have bulletin boards where you can find a used one inexpensively. You can also consider seated activities like chair yoga and Body Recall.
- Warm up your joints. Older adults often say one of the best things for their pain is a hot bath or shower. Warming up those damaged joints can provide relief. If you have a YMCA or other rehab center near you, find out if they have an aquatic therapy program you can join.
- Watch your weight. We know how important maintaining a healthy weight is, but for those with arthritis it is doubly so. Each extra pound of weight you carry around puts three to four extra pounds of pressure on your knees. A weight loss of just five pounds can translate to 15 – 20 pounds less pressure on your knees!
- Give your hands a paraffin dip. The kits to do an in-home paraffin dip have fallen significantly in the past few years. You can purchase one for under $30 now. They allow you to heat up the paraffin and soak your hands in it. Some can also accommodate feet! If your hands and feet are the source of your arthritis pain, this is a good investment.
- Have your vitamin D checked. During the cold months of a Michigan winter, many seniors don’t get outside much. That puts you at greater risk of a vitamin D deficiency. Ask your family physician about having a blood test to check your vitamin D. You might need a supplement or prescription dose to pump up your D.
- Consider supplements. Talk with your physician about this first, but consider a supplement to help manage arthritis pain. The Arthritis Foundation has a list of those that science supports and those believed to be harmful. Just be sure to discuss this with your physician and pharmacist to avoid drug interactions.
- Food choices matter. Add more inflammation-fighting foods to your diet. Those include berries, grapes and plums, as well as omega-3 rich foods like fish and nuts. Adding ginger to recipes can also help with inflammation.
- Vitamin C may help. Foods rich in vitamin C are now being linked to new collagen production. That is a critical component of cartilage. For those living with joints damaged by arthritis, bell pepper, oranges, kiwi, cauliflower and strawberries might be good dietary choices to make.
- Drink your green tea. The benefits of this little tea leaf are numerous and include helping to block the chemicals in your body that are believed to cause inflammation. That might help prevent cartilage from breaking down more.
We hope one or more of these suggestions helps you find relief this winter!