Arthritis treatment: The five best ways to treat flare-ups in winter

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Cold, rainy days can make arthritis much worse, a study led by consultant rheumatologist Professor Will Dixon at the University of Manchester and funded by Versus Arthritis found. The study assessed how weather impacted more than 13,000 people in the UK with long-term health conditions including arthritis and it discovered that “damp and windy days with low atmospheric pressure” increased the chances of experiencing more pain than normal by around 20 percent. Express.co.uk reveals the five best ways to treat winter arthritis flare-ups.

Muscles, bones and tendons get bigger and smaller in response to atmospheric change, but the exact impact weather has on your arthritis depends on a number of things.

The Versus Arthritis website explains: “Exactly how and why barometric pressure changes affect the joints is unclear.

“It could be related to the pressure of the fluid oiling your joints or increased nerve sensitivity.”

Your response to the weather may also depend on the type of arthritis you have.

Professor of occupational rheumatology at the University of Southampton, Karen Walker-Bone pointed out that people with osteoarthritis generally prefer warm and dry weather, while those with rheumatoid arthritis tend to prefer the cooler weather.

It is also thought lower barometric pressure (rainy weather) causes worse pain and higher emotional stress levels for people with fibromyalgia.

If you’re experiencing more flare-ups this winter with whatever arthritis you have, there are plenty of ways to reduce the pain and ward off flare-ups.

Here are the best five tactics to treat your winter arthritis flare-ups.

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Keep warm

If your arthritis is worse when the weather is cold and damp, you need to keep your joints as warm as possible.

The NHS recommends heating your home to at least 18C if you have reduced mobility, are 65 or over or have a health condition such as heart or lung disease.

If you’re worried about bills, Versus Arthritis points out that older people could get help to pay heating bills through the Winter Fuel Payment scheme and you might also be entitled to Cold Weather Payments if you claim other benefits.

Versus Arthritis recommends wearing lots of loose layers of clothing to trap heat and using hand warmers or heated gloves.

You can also reduce the amount of heat you lose through your head by wearing a hat and sticking on some thick socks to keep your feet warm and cushion your soles.

Many slippers, shoes and boots are available with fur linings to help keep your feet warm, but it’s easier to keep your feet warm when the rest of your body is warm.

A warm bath or shower before bed, or using a hot water bottle, microwavable wheat bag or electric blanket could also help to aid mobility and reduce stiffness.

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Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is an important part of avoiding arthritis flare-ups, especially if you have gout.

You still sweat in the winter, even if the weather isn’t warm, so make sure you’re drinking enough water.

Versus Arthritis adds: “Aim to consume less salt – salt makes your body retain extra water while drinking more water can dilute salt levels. “

CBD

Cannabinoid (CBD) oils, balms, sprays and tablets aren’t just good for improved sleep and less anxiety, this stuff could help you to reduce pain associated with arthritis.

CBD is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant, it is the most prevalent ingredient in cannabis but doesn’t contain THC and therefore does not cause a ‘high’ and is totally legal.

Although longer-term studies may be needed, there is research that suggests CBD has anti-inflammatory properties which may be beneficial for arthritis.

The symptoms of arthritis – swelling, pain, stiffness and a decrease in the range of motion- are caused by inflammation, meaning that CBD could be a useful alternative to conventional medicine.

One study found a spray containing cannabis extract helped reduce pain in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis over a period of five weeks.

But how does CBD work? The team at Puresport (which makes CBD capsules, balm and oil) said: “Essentially, cannabinoids (such as CBD) can block certain receptors in our brain which influence inflammation and pain within the body.

“Plus, CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) which is the system responsible for regulating our pain output.”



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