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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Dr Eki Wari and Physician Anita Pee on November 24, 2022

Best Arthritis Pain Relief Tips During Cold Weather

Keep these arthritis pain relief tips handy this winter when cold weather takes a toll on your joints and makes it hard to perform simple tasks.

Arthritis pain in cold weather min scaled

Arthritis pain relief is needed more in the winter than in any other month. Have you ever noticed that your sore, achy joints worsen when the temperatures drop?

This can make simple tasks challenging, such as tying your shoes with swollen fingers or getting out of bed with hip and back pain.

Luckily, there are many things you can do to ease joint pain and stiffness. These arthritis pain relief tips can help keep your joints comfortable in the cold weather.

Why Is Arthritis Pain Worse In Winter?

An elderly lady massaging her left hand due to pain or discomfort
Arthritis pain can develop or worsen in the cold winter months, making it hard to perform daily tasks.

Although cold weather doesn’t cause arthritis, it can worsen aches and pains. This is because, according to the Arthritis Foundation, cold temperatures increase pain sensitivity, reduce blood circulation, and induce muscle spasms.

Additionally, our joints may detect and respond to air pressure in the atmosphere, causing tendons and muscles to shrink.

Low temperatures also increase synovial fluid thickness, which is the fluid that acts as your joint’s shock absorber. This can make joints stiffer and puts more stress on joints that were already painful to begin with.

Winter and cold weather may also keep us indoors and deplete us of vitamin D. Vitamin D is needed for immune support and to control inflammation.

Research shows that low levels of vitamin D is common among rheumatoid arthritis patients. It may even lead to the development and worsening of symptoms.

Arthritis pain and cold weather, according to TCM

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), winter weather can cause Coldness, Wind and Dampness that lead to external pathogenic factors that can invade the body and cause illnesses or imbalances in the body.

“These external pathogenic Cold, Wind and Dampness factors obstruct the smooth flow of qi and blood in the meridians, causing Qi and Blood stagnation in the joints. This can manifest as soreness, pain, and swelling in the joints and is known as ‘Bi’ syndrome in TCM,” stated TCM Physician Anita Pee.

Cold Weather Arthritis Pain Relief Tips

Keeping your joints and body warm in the winter can help tame some of your symptoms. Here are some ways to do that:

Try warming herbs

“Warming herbs and spices can help improve qi and blood circulation in the body, as well as dispel Wind and Cold and resolve Dampness. Include warming spices such as ginger, cinnamon and turmeric in your diet,” recommended Physician Pee.

“Commonly used herbal prescriptions to treat arthritis pain and joint pain include Juan Bi Tang and Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang. They contain herbs such as Notopterygium (Qiang Huo) and Pubescent Angelica Root (Du Huo) that can expel Wind-Cold-Dampness, unblock obstructions and alleviate pain. It may also be helpful to apply heat to joints and keep joints warmly covered during winter,” Physician Pee stated.

Taking a joint health supplement with herbs may also help reduce inflammation, induce blood flow, and alleviate pain. Consuming warm herbal teas and soups in the winter may also have a similar effect.

Stimulate acupressure points

Acupressure can help reduce arthritis and joint pain. Physician Pee recommends stimulating the following acupoints:

  • Da Zhui (GV14): Boosts yang energy to dispel Cold and Dampness from the body 
  • Xue Hai (SP10): Invigorates Blood to remove Blood Stasis and dispel Wind 

Local points that move local qi and remove Stagnation: 

  • For elbow joint pain: Qu Chi (LI11) 
  • For wrist joint pain: Wai Guan (SJ5) 
  • For finger joint pain: Ba Xie (EX-UE9) 
  • For knee joint pain: Xi Yan (EX-LE5) 
  • For ankle joint pain: Jie Xi (ST41) 

“Massage these points for 3-5 minutes, several times a day. It may also be helpful to perform moxibustion at these points for a better warming effect,” stated Physician Pee.

Keep moving

It’s hard to get motivated to exercise in the winter, but doing so helps keep your joints and muscles loose.

Regular physical exercise also boosts energy, strength, and flexibility. During exercise, the body releases feel-good hormones that help reduce inflammation, which can ease arthritis pain.

Aim for about 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. Include two strength training sessions and start slow if needed.

Remember, your arthritis pain relief plan may require multiple approaches. Adding warming herbs, acupressure, and exercise to your wellness routine can help. Always check with your doctor or TCM physician before starting any program if you have questions.

References

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