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Ruth asks This Morning doctor about milk helping arthritis

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As the UK enters a ‘cold snap’ with temperatures dropping dramatically this week, winter is truly upon us. Some people with arthritis might find that the drop in temperature leads to an increase in stiffness and joint pain. When the weather reaches bitingly cold temperatures, there are steps you can take to keep your joints happy.

For the 10 million people in the UK with some form of arthritis, freezing cold temperatures may exasperate their symptoms.

Some people find cold weather can make their joint pain more uncomfortable, experiencing what feels like a sharp, icy, how to buy prednisolone australia without prescription pain in their joints.

Cold weather can also affect your circulation, and poorer circulation leads to increased inflammation.

Natalie Carter, Head of Research Engagement for the charity Versus Arthritis, says: “Many people with arthritis believe changes in the weather affect their level of pain.

“However everyone’s experience of arthritis is different and certain weather conditions will improve pain levels for some people, while others will experience the opposite.”

If you find cold weather worsens your joint pain, follow these four steps to protect your joints this winter.

1 – Wrap up warm

No one likes feeling cold, but for those with arthritis, keeping warm is even more crucial.

Natalie says: “Keeping warm is important. It can be helpful to wear loose layers of clothing as they work better at trapping the heat than thicker clothes.

“Wearing thicker socks or two pairs (as long as they’re not too tight) not only helps to keep your feet warm but also provides extra cushioning under your soles, and sheepskin or fur-lined slippers and shoes can help keep your feet warm too.”

2 – Keep your house a comfortable temperature

Natalie says: “The NHS recommends you should heat 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.”

In addition to using your heating, making some adjustments to your home can make it more energy-efficient. Natalie says: “Use draft excluders and close your curtains at dusk to help keep heat in.

“A hot-water bottle can be a great investment as it will keep your bed warm as well as ease joint stiffness.”

3 – Stay active

When it’s cold outside it can make it tempting to stay indoors and skip your usual exercise, but it’s so important to stay active, especially if you have arthritis.

Natalie says: “Keeping active will improve your circulation and help to keep you warmer.

“The weather might put you off doing long outdoor walks but there are many indoor options, like doing a yoga class, trying aerobics or using a treadmill.”

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4 – Eat well and don’t drink too much alcohol

Diet has a huge impact on arthritis.

Eating foods high in antioxidants and with anti-inflammatory properties can reduce painful symptoms.

Arthritis-friendly winter warmers can help keep you warm, but watch out for too much mulled wine.

Natalie says: “You need energy from food to stay warm, so try to have regular hot meals and drinks.

“We’re coming into the festive season but it’s wise to be careful with alcohol in the cold.

“If you’ve drunk too much alcohol and you go out into the cold, your body sends heat away from the core of your body to warm up the blood vessels and skin at the surface of your body.”

Although not everyone experiences more intense symptoms when the weather is colder, there is evidence of different types of weather affecting joint pain for different people.

Versus Arthritis are researching what reasons could be behind this.

Natalie says: “To date there has been very little research in this area, so Versus Arthritis funded the world’s first smartphone-based study to investigate the association between weather and chronic pain.

“The Cloudy with a Chance of Pain study by the University of Manchester asked thousands of participants across the country to record their daily symptoms with a dedicated smartphone app.

“Researchers then tallied this against participants’ GPS data so they could identify patterns and trends.

“The research showed people experienced greater discomfort on humid and windy days, whereas dry days were least likely to be painful.”

While it is still too early to draw conclusions, interesting correlations between weather and arthritis symptoms are emerging.

Natalie says: “Our study did not examine the mechanism by which weather influences pain but others have suggested why different aspects of the weather may influence pain; however few have been conclusively proven.

“For example, pressure has been suggested to have a direct effect on joints and their altered anatomy in patients with arthritis, but this is not proven.”

For more information and support about living with arthritis visit www.versusarthritis.org or call the charity’s free helpline on 0800 5200 520.

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