Another Winter With AxSpa

Here in Australia we’re leaving the cold weather behind and enjoying the spring.

At this time I’m once again conscious of all my friends in the northern hemisphere living through another winter with AxSpa.

Many people, myself included, find cold temperatures worsen their joint pain and stiffness. I used to wonder if this was all in my head, but I’ve asked several doctors and there are valid reasons for winter being a tough time for any form of arthritis.

How cold temperatures affect us

Cold temperatures increase the sensitivity of our pain receptors, slow blood flow and cause muscle spasms. Air pressure changes can also impact our joints and create aches and pains in sync with the weather patterns that often occur in winter.

Additionally, when we feel cold we often hold ours bodies more tensely and adopt postures which put strain on those problem areas (like our lower back) that are already inflamed.

With all this in mind, no wonder the winter is challenging with AxSpa!

You may picture Australia as a land of sunshine and crowded beaches, but we actually do experience quite chilly temperatures in the southern part of the country (and even snow in some areas!). We’re not always great at dressing well for winter, and many houses and workplaces don’t have adequate central heating.

How I cope

For the past two years I’ve made a conscious effort to try and offset the effects of the cold and keep joint pain at bay.

Community Poll

Do you notice worsening flares in colder weather?

Heated tools

During the day I struggle to stay warm while sitting at my desk working. I finally gave in and bought myself an electric heated throw rug and this has become the best thing to wrap around me for warmth on a cold day! If you can source one of these I’d strongly encourage you to treat yourself. Make sure you get one with a timer and adjustable temperature settings then sit back and soak up the warmth.

The other item I would not be without is my microwavable heat pack. When my lower back is sore and cold this is great for some targeted heat that instantly helps ease the ache. I recently bought one with a velcro strap that goes around my waist and stays in place much more easily. There are plenty of different types available online if this is something that would be helpful to you.

Warmer clothes

I’ve also started dressing differently on colder days. Woollen blend thermal tops and leggings are now a winter staple for me, and if I have to head out in the cold I’m never without my down jacket or winter hat. Keeping my overall body temperature at an even level seems to help with joint pain overall and avoids that tense posture I used to find myself adopting when cold.

If you simply can’t get warm, there’s nothing like a hot bath or shower to get your core body temperature back on track. Obviously it’s only possible to do when you’re at home, but I use this as my go-to when I’m tired and cold at the end of the day. One day I’d love to install a sauna but in the meantime I’ll just have to dream!

Movement

Finally, one of the best ways I’ve found to keep warm is exercise. A brisk walk or a quick workout raises body temperature and keeps it there, warming you from the inside out. I’ve got a favorite high intensity workout that only goes for 9 minutes but it never fails to do the trick. And of course the benefits of that technique go way beyond warming me up so it’s a total win/win.

Warm food, hot drinks, thick socks...what are you doing to keep the aches of AxSpa at bay during the winter months?

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AxialSpondyloarthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.

Community Poll

Have you taken our In America Survey yet?