8 Tips To Make Winter More Comfortable

Arthritis is often referred to as an “old person’s disease,” even though over 300,000 children and approximately 25 million adults deal with the autoimmune-type presentation of the disease. Although autoimmune arthritis (JA/RA) is different from osteoarthritis (the type suffered from age, overuse or injury) some of the symptoms can be the same.

Dropping temperatures and cold damp weather can affect pain levels for any arthritis sufferer, but there are some things that can be done to make things a bit easier during the winter.

1) wear gloves or mittens (and good socks!) This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is something that needs to be said. Even my own kids want to say, “oh its just for a minute!” but even that minute can allow the ache to set in. Many JA/RA patients (including one of my two sons) also suffer from Raynaud’s disease where circulation is decreased in the fingers and /or toes resulting in change of color, tingling or numbness, depending on the severity of the case. Keeping fingers (and toes!) warm without “risking” it by going gloveless is a good habit in colder climates.

2) Allow plenty to time to work off morning stiffness. It seems like winter causes an increase in morning stiffness as well as a longer duration of symptoms. To decrease pain (and stress levels) allowing time for a hot shower or bath before the start of the day can make a big difference in severity of symptoms. Building in extra time also allows kids who are hurting to take things at a pace where they can be comfortable, instead of being rushed, and needing to push through the pain.

3) Decrease morning stiffness before it starts with a heated mattress pad. Seriously, this is one of the best investments I made for my kids. unlike a heated blanket, the heated mattress pad gives off much less heat, and is always in contact with the sleeper. Most have timers that can be set so that it will only be on during sleeping hours, and can be adjusted so that the bed just feels cozy, not warm or hot. Before we tried it ourselves, I was very skeptical that it would work or even be comfortable. After we ordered it and put it on the bed, I was even less convinced, since it didn’t seem to be giving off anything but trace amounts of heat. My kids will tell you though, it is very comfortable, not too warm, and makes a huge difference in their morning mobility. Be sure to check out different brands, and see them in person if possible (if you are unsure based on product reviews.) We did purchase a bumpy, uncomfortable version the first time around, that my son could feel the wires. Our second attempt was great, and had the same feel as a traditional mattress pad, so remember they are not all created the same.

4) Don’t allow holiday goodies to completely derail a good diet. We are all for treats and splurges, but just as with any healthy child, too much of a good thing can result in feeling ill, sluggish, or not quite on top of things. With JA added in the mix, we always try to make sure we are balancing fun with common sense and generally good health habits, because we can’t afford to make things worse by letting go of all the normal “rules.”

5) Get plenty of rest, and listen to your body’s/child’s limits. For basically the same reasons I listed in #4.

6) Modify activities as necessary. Don’t say no to snow play! If it’s “too hard” on them, then allow shorter times outside spread out through the day. I know it’s a pain to deal with all the snow and slush that gets dragged in, but it is important for their mental health and well-being to let them be kids too. Are they planning a snowball fight? Then have everyone make snowballs for 10 minutes, and then call them inside for hot chocolate. Spend 20 minutes outside with them building a fort then come inside for lunch. After lunch, let them have the war, but when the snowballs are gone, its time to come in. There you have it. You successfully limited time outside, forced rest breaks and warm up times, made great memories without being the Grinch or the enforcer.

7) Drink plenty of water! Because we aren’t hot, we often forget to drink as much water as we should during winter. Good hydration is important for joint mobility and overall health.

8) Get creative! Come up with your own comfort measures- then let us know what works for you! I would love some new ideas!

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  1. I should have read #4 before I ate all the cookies my wife made last week…I can’t get my kids to drink enough water in the winter!

  2. I loved the post about heated mattress pad. I would love to try any of those. It all looks wonderfully comfortable! Thanks 🙂

  3. I should have read #4 before I ate all the cookies I made last week…I can’t get my kids to drink enough water in the winter! Their skin and lips are always so chapped it makes me crazy.
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  4. Great tips. I didn’t even know there were heated mattress pads. We use a heating pad but my daughter hates feeling hot.

    • The heated mattress pad might be a good solution for her then! I got our second one at Kohl’s, and they love it. The sunbeam one I linked to is a nice one too. I highly recommend looking at reviews or trying to feel one in person (just in the package) to make sure you cant feel the wires.

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