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Rheumatoid Arthritis: 5 Ways to Manage Joint Pain During the Winter

When it comes to managing rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, winter weather can add a new level of complication for 1.3 million Americans. But what is rheumatoid arthritis, and why does colder weather make it worse?

Rheumatoid arthritis (also called RA) is an autoimmune disease that can make joints swollen and uncomfortable, even painful. Science isn’t exactly sure why cold can make it worse, but there are theories about barometric pressure and joint expansion, as well as the thickness of fluid in the joints changing with temperatures.

Regardless of the whys, some things are just known by those with rheumatoid arthritis: managing winter joint pain is an absolute must. Here are five ways to help you cope with the colder season.

1. Get Moving

There’s a misconception that exercise can make arthritis pain worse, but the opposite is true. Adults with arthritis and no other severe health conditions should fit in moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week .

Working out in winter can pose several challenges. In addition to the desire to stay under a warm blanket, slippery sidewalks and frigid air can make outdoor activity dangerous. Instead, try walking at a nearby mall, or look for some at-home workout videos on YouTube. You can even join a gym or download a workout app. Or find a friend who will workout with you—and hold you accountable.

FlexCare has the highest approval rate of second-course Tepezza referrals. Contact us if your second course of treatment was previously denied.

2. Dress for Success

Your clothing can help relieve arthritis joint pain. Thermal compression gloves can help reduce swelling in your hands and fingers. Alternatively, wearing mittens instead of gloves can help fingers generate more heat.

Clothing made of fleece or stuffed with down can also help add heat without adding weight. Try wearing a vest—insulating your core can warm your blood and send it to your extremities, which often experience the most arthritic pain.

3. More Vitamin D

Low vitamin D levels have been linked to pain sensitivity and more severe rheumatoid arthritis . In winter, people tend to get less vitamin D because the body creates it with exposure to sunlight, and winter coats don’t allow much UV exposure. So, watch your vitamin D levels. Good non-sun sources of this important vitamin are fatty fish like salmon and tuna, vitamin D-fortified foods like milk, orange juice, cereals, and even cod liver oil .

4. Warm Up

Arthritis joint pain management can be as simple as a hot compress or a warm bath. Microwavable heat packs or electric heating pads can help alleviate pain while sitting, and a hot shower is an easy way to relieve arthritis joint pain in the morning or evening.

5. Get Your Flu Shot

People with rheumatoid arthritis are at a greater risk of infection from the flu and pneumonia. That’s because autoimmune diseases can compromise your body’s ability to fight infections. Some medications can also weaken your immune system. To keep yourself protected, the CDC recommends getting a flu shot by October .

Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment

In addition to these non-medical treatments, managing winter joint pain—and year-round joint pain—can also be achieved with over-the-counter medicines and prescriptions.

However, some people have difficulty taking oral medications or find that their rheumatoid arthritis symptoms aren’t relieved by these treatments. For these individuals, infusion therapy medications prescribed by a physician may provide relief from swelling and pain, as well as prevent additional damage, reduce fatigue, and even slow disease progression.

If you’re interested in infusion therapy for rheumatoid arthritis, talk with your doctor to see if IV treatment is right for you. Your doctor can simply fax or email a completed referral form to FlexCare. We would love to help you feel better.