Arthritis – Combatting the Morning Stiffness That Winter Brings

The cold nights are upon us, and with that comes feelings of angst for arthritis sufferers. For over two million people living in Australia with this condition, the cold weather brings an increase in the stiffness and pain in the joints that are affected by osteoarthritis.

People living with osteoarthritis will typically describe pain and stiffness in their joints in the morning and often before and after activity. My avid golfing patients will tell me they can’t twist through the hip when driving the ball, my middle-aged daily walkers will tell me it’s hard to climb the stairs at the park and my elderly patients tell me it’s hard to open the cookie jar in the morning! And now that Winter is right here, I’d say I’ll be hearing this a whole lot more in the coming months.

But it doesn’t have to be all somber and deflating. At least not with these tips and tricks to get you up and about!
  1. Rug up and keep warm! Get that Kathmandu jacket out of the wardrobe, pair it with your favourite scarf and beanie, and put your warmest pants on. Providing a warm environment for joints affected by osteoarthritis can help to ease the pain and decrease the stiffness in joints affected by this condition.
  2. Absorb all that fresh air – walking is a great way to keep your joints well-nourished and mobile during the colder months. Walking for 30 minutes 4-5 days a week can make a big difference to the quality of movement in the joints. Just make sure you do Step 1 first and rug up before getting out in the cold.
  3. Keep an eye on Nonna’s cooking – it may taste great, but weight gain is often a contributing factor to the onset of osteoarthritis. A well-balanced diet and exercising regularly are two important ways to manage the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
  4. Get to know your heat pack or hot water bottle – they say dogs are a man’s best friend, but I would argue a heat pack might nearly win this contest for arthritis sufferers. The regular application of a heat pack over the affected joint for 15 minutes several times a day can help reduce the pain and stiffness caused by osteoarthritis.
  5. Get the hammer and chisel ready to tone the physique – regular resistance work is an important component in managing the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Whether it’s your local water aerobics, a body pump class or turning up the thermostat in a hot yoga studio, regular resistance work 2-3 times a week is integral to your weekly exercise routine.
  6. Chat with your Osteopath or Myotherapist – sometimes we talk too much and enjoy the sound of our own voice, but we are experienced in treating osteo arthritis. We are an excellent resource to utilise during the colder months and can provide you with the hands-on treatment and strategies to combat the pain and stiffness you’re experiencing.


– Nick Cannon | Osteopath