Keep Arthritis At Bay This Summer
Summer is great. Everyone is happy, carefree and making the most of the sunny weather. Well almost everyone. For those with arthritis the sweltering heat can be challenging and uncomfortable. Whether you’re affected by osteoarthritis, gout, rheumatoid, psoriatic or juvenile arthritis, your symptoms could worsen over the summer and with good reason. Here’s what you need to know about summer flare-ups and how chiropractic care can really benefit those living with these chronic conditions. We’re also offering some key advice, coming directly from our team, on how best to manage your arthritis symptoms in the heat.
It really seems as though the arthritis community can’t win! If you are one of them, you’ve probably grown a 6th sense when it comes to the weather. In the winter, the cooler temperatures restrict blood-flow to your extremities, which in turn makes you more sensitive to pain. This is why your joints feel more stiff and rigid. Ok, so maybe winter isn’t your season but then surely summer should be your time to shine, right? Unfortunately the heat, and especially the humidity, may also take its toll on your body. With the rise in temperatures comes swelling and stiffness.
Although arthritis is a long-term condition, it is very normal to have episodes of acute pain and inflammation, which may seem totally unpredictable.
Inflammation is the way your body generally responds to any type of irritant. In chronic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, this immune response goes a little haywire. Inflammation, which is supposed to protect your body, becomes your worst enemy.
With or without arthritis, we all tend to get a little swollen in the heat, especially around the feet and ankles. This is due to veins which dilate in the warmth and push fluid into the surrounding tissue. When there is pre-existing swelling in your body, it is even more likely that you will enter flare-up mode and become ultrasensitive to pain.
So what can be done about this sticky, swollen situation?
Chiropractic care is becoming an increasingly popular treatment plan for arthritis, which is multidimensional and the symptoms can vary from person to person. This is why a holistic approach such as chiropractic care is a really great option.
Unlike what you see on Youtube or Instagram, back-cracking and joint-popping is a very small part of chiropractic care. The practice takes all aspects of your condition into consideration. Chiropractors come armed with hundreds of different techniques to suit your needs. While some may require a high-velocity spinal adjustment, those living with arthritis may receive a combination of the following: gentle adjustments targeting the affected areas, deep-tissue massages to relieve spasm and tenderness, and even nutrition and lifestyle advice because that’s what a holistic approach really is! It means looking at you as an entire human and not just the single part of your body which may be in pain.
So chiropractic care is a tool to help you cope with these dreaded flare-ups. We aim to perform gentle adjustments to release any pressure in your joints and kick-start the healing process.
Don’t go looking for a magic potion. Although we still don’t have a miracle cure for arthritis, here are a few effective ways to relieve the pain and discomfort this summer.
Ice, elevate, release
Two great ways to take the inflammation down a notch include icing and elevating.
Placing an ice pack on the affected area has two benefits. The first is that it will numb the pain. Secondly, the cool temperature should reduce the fluid in the surrounding tissue. If your wrists, ankles or feet are particularly swollen, get into the habit of soaking them in cold water.
By elevating any part of your body higher than your chest, you’re using gravity to help blood flow away from your extremities and return to your heart. Take the time to lie flat on a mat with your feet propped on a cushion.
Release your ankles and feet from those constricting shoes! They could be cutting off the blood supply, increasing the swelling in your ankles and feet. So opt for comfortable sandals this summer.
If you live with arthritis you have probably already adapted your lifestyle. It’s important to recognise what works for you and your body. BUT don’t be disheartened if, despite your best efforts, you’re still affected by flare-ups. A large part of living with arthritis is just that. Accepting that this is a condition you must learn to live with. Do make the most of the summer, and be sure to ice, elevate and release. There is no cure for arthritis, but chiropractic care offers a long-term solution to manage both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.