Winter woes

Winter woes

The season is havoc for many those who suffer from psoriatic arthritis. Dr Chandrashekara S suggest ways to handle the season smoothly

Pains

As the temperatures drop, many with psoriatic arthritis experience pain in their joints.

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) affects around 30 per cent of people who have psoriasis. It can also occur in people without psoriasis. According to a study, every 10-degree drop in temperature corresponded with an increase in arthritic pain. Low atmospheric pressure and precipitation leads to an increase in joint pain. Lack of sunlight can also lead to Vitamin D deficiency. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation (USA), during winters, less exposure to Vitamin D can trigger inflammation in psoriatic arthritis. 

Here are some effective ways to manage psoriatic arthritis during winters:

Take a warm bath

Bathing in warm water can help ease pressure on aching joints. The ideal water temperature should be about 92–100°F (33–38°C), neither too hot nor too cold. Aim to soak for around 20 minutes. Try some gentle stretches after bathing to improve and maintain flexibility of the joints and muscles. 

Wear right clothing

Experts advise people with psoriatic arthritis to wear natural, soft, breathable fabrics, such as cotton. Dress appropriately as the chill can trigger joint pain and dry out the skin. To stay warm, wear a base layer of cotton and add layers of warmer fabrics. This will help provide warmth and also prevent the skin from coming in contact with any irritating fibres of the outer garments. Choose 100 per cent cotton fleece whenever possible. 

Exercise

In PsA, it is important to keep the joints strong and flexible. Many with the condition may find it difficult to exercise in cold weather. However, regular exercise can help them stay warm, healthy and active. Exercise also improves the pain bearing capacity of patients. One can follow an indoor exercise routine. It is important to consult a rheumatologist and physiotherapist about ways to modify exercises as per one’s mobility.

Eat healthy and get adequate sleep

A diet that helps maintain a healthy weight is important for everyone, but especially for patients with psoriatic arthritis. Excess weight can worsen psoriatic arthritis symptoms like joint pain. A healthy diet will help boost the immune system. Be sure to eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and protein, and limit saturated fats. Moreover, insufficient sleep can be detrimental for people living with psoriatic disease. Research indicates that itching and pain due to psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis can lead to poor sleep, which further results in exhaustion and stress, making the symptoms worse.

(The author is professor and managing director, ChanRe Rheumatology and Immunology Centre and Research, Bengaluru)

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