Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis During the Winter


I haven't written about my health for quite awhile now, mainly because I've been trying to change the direction on my blog and my chronic illnesses are something I don't really like to dwell on too much. My blog is my escape from aches and pains and the one area of my life that isn't affected by it. However, many people have told me that they can relate to my story and it helps them and with the weather turning colder and my bones beginning to ache more than ever, I thought it was about time for another post.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an auto immune disorder that according to NRAS (The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society) affects over 700,000 people in the UK. It is a degenerative condition that attacks the healthy joints and has the potential to cause damage to vital organs and cause severe deformities. I was diagnosed with RA during my last year at university, just before my dissertation - you can read about my story here. It was a difficult time living with chronic pain and fatigue on a level that I had never experienced previously (I was always healthy before being diagnosed), but thanks to a concoction of DMARDS (disease modifying tablets), hefty painkillers and the odd steroids, my symptoms have become under control.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) isn't like hay-fever that sprouts up at a certain time of year, it is something that affects peoples lives daily whether it rains or shines, but many suffers will note, myself included, that it does have a tenancy to worse during the winter, even when there's no scientific evidence to actually prove this. When it is cold outside, it causes my joints to be stiffer than usual and I often get a dull, throbbing pain running through my bones. The morning stiffness that occurs makes it a struggle to do up buttons, comb my hair and even open the most basic of packages. To help those suffering from joint issues over the winter period, I have put together a few of my top tips below.

Wrap up warmly

To ensure your joints stay comfortable during the winter and that they are not exposed to the harsh cold weather, make sure you wrap up warmly and layer your clothing and always remember to take a pair of gloves with you.

Exercise

It is tempting to lounge on the sofa all day when the weather is rubbish, but inactivity can cause additional joint stiffness. Try to do as much exercise as you can, whether it's going to the local pool for a swim or doing a few floor exercises in front of the TV. 

Take hot baths

Soaking in a nice hot bath has been the cure to many aches and pains for centuries and even now, on a bad pain day there's nothing like a hot bath to help loosen those joints. A twenty minute soak with Epsom salts helps the joints loosen, soothe pain and decrease swelling and inflammation.

Take extra Vitamin D

Vitamin D is the vitamin responsible for promoting healthy joints and it is important for those with arthritis. People living in cooler countries like the UK are naturally Vitamin D deficient due to the lack of sunshine and it generally gets worse in the winter when the only sunshine we get goes into hiding.

To raise awareness of what it is like to live with arthritis NRS Healthcare has created a series of videos using a brand new piece of specialist equipment created by Cambridge University which mimics the stiffness and difficulty that those living with arthritis experiences on a daily basis. The video can be seen below.



Do you or someone you know suffer from joint issues?




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12 comments

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