How to keep warm – some tips for those with bad joints and bad circulation

When you have bad joints keeping warm is essential. I often find that if I venture outside on a cold day and I am not wrapped up properly, the joints in my hands and feet are a lot sorer and stiffer than they would have been if I was dressed appropriately. Not only do my joints bother me more but I also have issues with the blood vessels in my extremities. In cold conditions my blood vessels constrict causing less blood to reach my toes and my fingers. This causes a white-blue complexion of fingers and toes and when you are heating up again your fingers and toes turn red and feel like they are burning due to blood flow returning to normal. This is Raynaud’s phenomenon (AKA Raynauds, Raynaud’s syndrome, Raynaud’s disease). Following the trend of my undiagnosed bad joints I haven’t been officially diagnosed with Raynaud’s either but it has come up in conversation with both my Rheumy and physio…

So how do I deal with bad joints, possible Raynaud’s and the cold?

1. Keep your core body temperature warm
This means wearing layers when you are going outside such as a vest, a coat and a scarf (as well as normal clothing). This will keep the temperature of your blood up so when it travels to your extremities it will keep them warmer than if your core is cold too.

2. Wear gloves
A lot of the time you will find me wearing gloves even when the temperature is fairly mild. This tries to ensure that my hands don’t get too cold and the blood vessels in my hands don’t spasm. I have tried many pairs of gloves which haven’t proven very effective although they are certainly more effective than going out gloveless… I am going to look into buying some thermal gloves or mittens as I have heard that they are better for heat conservation than regular gloves. I would also advise that you shouldn’t get gloves that are too small and restrict blood flow.

3. Wear thick socks
[This only really applies for when you are in the house, as trying to get thick socks into your shoes can restrict blood flow to your toes.] I find that about 70% of the time, I can’t feel my toes because thy are so cold,and the other 30% of the time my toes are pretty sore because I can feel my joints so I guess not being able to feel my toes is sort of a blessing as well as a curse. However, having cold feet all the time really isn’t fun so I find that as soon as I take my shoes off, if I put thick socks on sometimes my feet will heat up, although this does take time. I have found that bed socks are the best for these, as they are soft, and thick but they aren’t too tight, especially when you have swollen ankles to contend with.

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4. SLIPPERS!
On top of my thick bed socks I tend to wear slippers around the house. Slippers help to provide support for my arch and my ankle as well as helping to keep my feet warm. However, choosing a pair of slippers can be tricky and I always choose pairs that are at least a size bigger than my feet as this leaves room for me to fit my thick socks into my slippers without squishing my feet.
Right now I use Bedroom Athletics slippers which have to be one of the cosiest pair of slippers I’ve had!

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5. Shoes that aren’t too tight
We have all been there, choosing shoes because of the way they look even though they are a little bit too tight. Well having fashionable shoes is important, I agree, but I think it’s more important to have shoes that you are comfortable in and that aren’t too tight. Tight shoes can also restrict blood flow to your toes leaving you with cold feet which isn’t nice!

6. Hand warmers
Last year I was having real difficulty in keeping my hands warm and they were so cold in one shop that they were pure white. By just looking at my hands you would have probably thought I was dead, they had no heat in them and my capillary refill was horrendously slow so mum bought me some hand warmers. These are little gel packs that you can hold and they generate heat to heat your hands up! You do have to be careful though because they can get pretty hot and when your hands are really cold pretty hot can feel like they are burning.
You can buy hand warmers pretty cheaply from any sports shop like Sports Direct or from Amazon for around £1.30 per pack.

7. Having a warm friend
Okay so this isn’t the most serious piece of advice I have ever given but if you are lucky enough to have a friend that practically radiates heat, then they might be prepared to share some heat with you if you ask nicely
enough 🙂

I hope that these tips will help you all stay warm! And don’t forget to zip up when you go outside!

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