The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

6 Tips for Coping with Winter Weather Arthritic Foot Pain

Posted by on Monday, November 3rd, 2014

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Nearly a quarter of Americans suffer from arthritis, a disease characterized by inflammation, stiffness, joint pain, and swelling. Multiple body parts can be affected, but we treat arthritis of the foot and ankle here at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Although there is no scientific reason to corroborate an increase in arthritis flare-ups during the winter months, we find that the number of people seeking arthritic pain relief does tend to increase with the colder New York weather. In fact, the Arthritis Foundation offers a local weather tracking tool that can help people predict their symptoms.

A winter walk can be very painful for arthritis sufferers. NY podiatrists discuss what you can do. Image Source: Unsplash

Why does the cold make arthritic symptoms worse? 

There are many reasons why arthritis may feel worse in the winter:

  • Cold weather stiffens the muscles, which can contribute to pain.
  • Tissues expand when air pressure is low, thus putting more pressure on the joints.
  • People tend to exercise less in the cold months, which decreases flexibility.

What can you do?

It goes without saying that you should dress warmly in layers during the winter, but here are more specific pointers:

  1. 1. Buy warm socks. Heat Holders promises to be the “warmest thermal sock on Earth.” More than six million pairs of socks have been shipped since 2009. According to the manufacturer, the socks boast “a warm cashmere-like feel that was incredibly soft to touch and comfortable to wear” and they have an “intense brushing process … which maximizes air pockets in turn maximizing total warmth, comfort and overall thermal protection.” Here are a few other brands of incredibly warm socks. Generally, you’ll want to look for socks made from wool, shearling, polypropylene, Thermax, Coolmax or Thermasilk. Avoid cotton, which absorbs moisture, takes long to dry, and tends to be more porous.
  2. 2. Ensure that your winter footwear is warm and waterproof. In addition to shopping for quality boots that are warm and waterproof, you can also invest in a boot-drier to make sure your boots completely dry out between wears. Some people like the feel of heated insoles or foot warmers, although you want to be careful you don’t overheat the feet and cause excess perspiration. Merrell is a high-quality brand of boot with a lot of warmth, traction, and support for arthritis sufferers and active outdoorsy types alike. Dansko, Aetrex, and Clarks boots are other podiatrist-recommended winter footwear for people with foot pain.
  3. 3. Remain active. It is worth your while to find an indoor heated swimming pool for low-impact exercise during the winter. Elliptical trainers and stationary bikes are other good activities that won’t put too much stress on your painful joints.
  4. 4. Drink plenty of water and juice. Staying well-hydrated will flush out toxins and diminish joint pain. Hot beverages like tea, hot cocoa, soup, and warm cider are warming, comforting treats on a cold New York day.
  5. 5. Moisturize. A dehumidifier helps you maintain a steady moisture level in the home. Begin your day with a hot shower to take some of the stiffness out of the joints and warm up your body.
  6. 6. Don’t be afraid to rely on OTC remedies. Anti-inflammatories purchased from your local pharmacy can go a long way in reducing the everyday aches and pains associated with arthritis. Acupuncture, massage, and supplements can all help you manage your condition at home.

Wondering where to find NYC arthritis foot care?

Visit The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in Manhattan or Westchester for next-level care by board-certified podiatrists, podiatric surgeons, and physical therapists. We can help you learn exercises to stretch the foot and ankle joints and improve mobility. We can also offer you the most innovative non-invasive treatments like extracorporeal shockwave therapy and platelet rich plasma injections, which stimulate your body’s natural healing processes. In the worst case scenarios, our trained surgeons can counsel you on surgical options like ankle or toe joint replacements. For your convenience, you may book an appointment with one of our NY offices online.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.