When temperatures dip down low, joint pain can creep up. While Aamir Mahmood, DPM, and his team at Momentum Foot & Ankle Clinic offer arthritis treatments here in Michigan City, Chesterton, Indiana, and Roselle, Illinois, they also want to help you manage pain during the colder months with simple lifestyle modifications.
Below, here are five cold weather tips for soothing arthritic foot pain.
1. Dress warmly to keep your feet warm
Whether you’re headed out for a day of errands, a nice walk around the block, or commuting to work, it’s important to keep your feet warm, especially the part of your foot affected by arthritis.
Osteoarthritis affects many joints in your feet, including:
If your ankle is affected by arthritis, keep your ankles, not just your feet, warm. You can keep your feet and ankles warm by wearing wool socks (that cover your ankles) and waterproof boots to prevent puddles or snow from getting your feet wet or cold. Wool socks are especially beneficial because they insulate your feet while allowing your feet to breathe, reducing your risk of athlete’s foot or fungal infections.
2. Exercise inside
Exercise is one of the best things you can do when you have arthritis. Exercise helps increase foot and ankle strength and flexibility, reduces joint pain, and helps prevent gout flare-ups. However, when it’s cold and lake-effect snow is on the horizon, exercising outside isn’t always fun. Instead of forgoing the exercise, exercise inside. Fitness centers and at-home workouts can make this an easy winter goal.
3. Supplement with vitamin D
Consider eating more vitamin D-rich foods or taking a vitamin D supplement during the winter. In the summer, you can get some of your vitamin D from sunlight, but it’s harder to get vitamin D in the darker winter months because of shortened daylight hours. Studies show that low levels of vitamin D might affect your sensitivity to arthritis pain, but supplementing with vitamin D can help ease foot pain related to arthritis.
4. Focus on hydration
In the humid midwestern summers, it’s hard to forget to drink water, but in the colder months, hydration might not be top of mind. Unfortunately, even mild dehydration can make you more sensitive to pain. This means that any pain — including foot pain from arthritis — seems worse when you’re dehydrated.
The US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommend a whopping 15.5 cups of fluids (for men) and 11.5 cups of fluid (for women). This number may seem high, but it includes cups of water, water in food (like soup or watermelon), and other beverages.
5. Focus on heat
Nothing soothes achy joints quite like heat therapy. Here are just a few ways to incorporate more heat therapy into your day:
- Add a heated blanket to your couch and keep your feet tucked under
- Stash a few heated mats around the house (this can keep your feet warmed up while you stand in the kitchen)
- Take advantage of heated pools or heated whirlpools in your local recreational center
- Consider using a programmable thermostat to keep your house at an even temperature (especially true if sudden fluctuations in temperature exacerbate your arthritis symptoms)
- Use paraffin wax treatments to warm up your feet
- Take a warm bath with Epsom salts
Note that you still might need a cold compress after physical activity. Stiff joints benefit from heat therapy, while swollen joints benefit from cold therapy.
When you need more than lifestyle modifications
These five tips can help you keep your feet during the winter, but sometimes you need other treatments to manage your symptoms. At Momentum Foot & Ankle Clinic, Dr. Mahmood offers various treatments, such as custom orthotic inserts, anti-inflammatory medication (oral and injections), and physical therapy.
If foot arthritis keeps you from living your best life, call the office of your choice or request an appointment online today.