Who among us hasn't felt joint pain at one time or another? If it's only occasional twinges consider that you're lucky. As you know, if you have arthritis or rheumatism, your pain is often frequent and excruciating - and winter only makes it worse. FYI: It's not so much the cold that is the culprit as is the fluctuating barometric pressure.
Here are some tips on how you can guard against some of winter's more brutal effects:
DRESS FOR THE COLD
•Use a hood to protect against heat loss.
•Wear long underwear
•Avoid drafts; cover your knees and shoulders with a light coverlet when driving.
•Wear woolen socks to protect your ankles and feet.
Your joints need to be active even if it doesn't feel so good to move them. Moderation is best. Over-doing exercise will only cause more pain for you. Walking is an excellent option as is swimming because the buoyancy releases pressure on hour joints.
USE COLD IN JUST THE RIGHT PLACES
If your joints are inflamed (and you see swelling or redness, or the pain and stiffness is extreme) place a insulated ice pack on the area. You can leave it there until you feel a little numb and the area is reddish. Don't keep it on too long. You don't want to get an ice burn - and don't apply ice directly to the skin. Use a pack or cover with a towel.
PUT ON THE HEAT
If your joints are aching (but not inflamed) apply heat for around 20 minutes - no longer. Be extremely careful not to burn your skin. CAUTION: Don't use heat on inflamed joints as it will only increase the pain.
MAKE YOUR LIFE EASIER
•Use electric can opener, food processors and hand-held vacuums to avoid over-using joints.
•Make sure to have tub grab bars installed.
•Buy sneakers with Velcro..
•Shower more frequently than bathing. If you sit in a bathtub for long periods of time, your joints will stiffen and it may be difficult to get out of the tub.
•If you have stairs in your home, leave a basket at the landings so you don't have to make so many trips.
•And try not to be an over-zealous housekeeper. It's okay to use a mop rather than getting on your knees!
About the Author: Robin Westen is the author of "Ten Days to Detox: How to Look and Feel a Decade Younger."
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