Winter Aches and Pains

With the colder season in full swing, many of us no longer engage in the activity we used to in the summer.  That, combined with the changes in weather can often cause arthritis to flare up.  There are many ways to help prevent these winter aches and pain from getting the better of us.  One of the best ways is to perform gentle exercises in your home on a daily basis.  Exercise will help maintain the health of your joints, the flexibility of your muscles and increase your energy levels.  Staying active is important during the winter, especially if you are experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder.  The SAD symptoms will often lead to less activity, strength and tolerance for your favorite hobbies causing a downward spiral into poor health.

            If you happen to be experiencing a flare up of arthritic pain, either from weather changes or lack of activity there are many gentle alternatives to regular exercise, such as isometrics.  Isometric exercises maintain a steady position while you flex your muscles for a short period of time.  Since your arm or leg isn’t moving, you will not get irritate the arthritis.  Your muscles stay strong and your joints stay stability and your circulation increases.  Always remember to breathe continuously during exercise and stop if it causes any discomfort.

            During painful flare ups you need to protect your joints, but that doesn’t mean sitting and resting all day; you have to stay active.  When you are active during a flare up, be sure to:

  • Protect the smaller joints – use the big ones instead
  • Avoid repetitive activity – if you have to get a big project done, do it in small parts throughout the day instead of all at once
  • Avoid awkward positions – these can slowly take their toll, so don’t hyper-extend or hyper-flex your joints.


If you have any questions call your doctor or physical therapist.


Arthritis Tips: Make your car more user friendly!

Is you car a pain?  Not just because of gas prices but because it makes you literally hurt to use it? Let’s start with simply unlocking and opening the door which could be painful if you have arthritis affecting your hands.  There is adaptive equipment to help you enjoy going for a ride in the car.

This device comes in handy for opening your car

This device comes in handy for opening your car…

This tool can making ulocking the door or turning the ignition a snap

This tool can making ulocking the door or turning the ignition a gives leverage to make turning any key easier…

This device will help make getting out of your car easier

This device will help make getting out of your car can add a satin pillowcase to your seat to make sliding in and out easier OR and heated seat cushion…

This gas cap wrench makes it easier to fill up, at least easier on the hands not necessarily the wallet.
This gas cap wrench makes it easier to fill up, at least easier on the hands not necessarily the wallet.

Also, remember to keep a Ziploc bag in the glovebox if your joints are swollen to use ice.


Arthritis- Performing Tasks Easier without the Pain

May is National Arthritis Month.  Therefore, it is a great time to focus on fixing your arthritis pain.  Do you hurt after preparing a meal?  Do you have difficulty doing everyday things or leisure activities?  If so, it may be worth while taking time to find a simpler or easier way to do them. 

Identify – what are you having difficulty or pain doing?

Analyze – is there another way of doing it?  Do you need equipment to make it easier?

Explore – are their new products (or old ones like a buttoner) that will make the task easier or less painful?

Organize – look for ways to make what you use frequently easily available between shoulder and hip height.  “Use your head, not your back.”

I have found a few items very helpful and readily available.  Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Reacher – long handled gadget for reaching.  Look in the pharmacy area of discount stores like Walmart.
  2. Long handled shoehorn – I found an inexpensive one at Cabela’s in the shoe section.

  3. Elastic shoe laces or curly laces – My patient told me that Payless carries these.

  4. Electric jar/can opener – I saw one at Sears in the kitchen department.  It is made by Black and Decker.


If you have found something that has helped you let us know what it was and where you found it.


Susan Gordon, PT

Lead Arthritis Therapist

Arthritis and Weather

For those of you with arthritis- have you ever noticed how the weather affects how you feel? Have you been able to predict rain or snow with amazing accuracy? Have you ever wondered how the rainy weather where you are traveling to might effect what you feel like when you get there?There is a fun web site endorsed by the Arthritis Foundation that may help. Go to, on the home page on the top left is a box that asks for your city, state or zip code. The local forcast will come up and at the bottom of the page is a section on weather for your health. They have an Arthritis Index measure. They take into consideration changes in atmospheric pressure, temperature and humidity and predict if symptoms will be mild to severe. To get this measure for another day, say later in the week or the following week choose the 1-5 day forcast. Pick the day you are curious about and click on forcast details, this will bring up an Arthritis Index measure for that day for morning and evening.It can be fun and useful. Try it for a while and see if in fact their index matches how you feel. There are many factors that influence how you feel. How active you have been, a sudden increase or decrease in activity, viruses, how you have slept and your stress level to name a few. The idea is to be prepared, maybe plan less on days you think will be more painful. Have cold or heat handy to help with any increase in pain.

By the way AccuWeather also has a Frizz Advisory to help you avoid bad hair days.

Susan Gordon PT

Arthritis Program Lead Therapist