It’s only November and I’ve already pulled out my winter jacket. I can’t believe how cold it’s gotten. Only a few weeks ago, I was wearing T-shirts and shorts. It’s time to pack up my light blouses and sandals and take out the box with my winter necessities: hats, scarves, and gloves.
A few items in my winter storage are unique: These accessories help me to cope with my juvenile arthritis (JA) in the colder months. While they’re not flashy or extraordinary, they help to relieve pain and keep me safe.
As a teen, I wore fingerless gloves every day from October until March. I had a dozen pairs to match every outfit. While I had warm gloves and mittens for outside, my fingerless gloves prevented my hands from getting cold, stiff, and painful while indoors. They were particularly beneficial when taking notes in chilly classrooms.
Later, I started using compression gloves. While they look like regular fingerless gloves, they’re a great tool to soothe enthesis swelling and tenderness. They help to relieve pain while looking stylish. I have a few pairs in gray, black, and pink.
Hand sanitizer keychains
Cold and flu season is a rough time for kids with JA. Some medications to treat juvenile arthritis suppress the immune system, and make it easier to get sick. Keeping hand sanitizer on hand when you’re on the go can help keep germs at bay.
I like the silicone hand sanitizer covers you can get at stores like Bath & Body Works. The covers can attach to your bag straps, keys, or lanyard. In addition to being fun and colorful, they’re also very soft and can make squeezing the bottle less painful.
Shoes with good traction
Last winter was a nightmare. While we didn’t get a ton of snow, temperatures were often freezing. Most days, it was almost impossible to avoid black ice. Even with my snow boots, I found myself sliding around and had one bad fall that sent me flat on my back. While I was OK, I was extremely sore and flared up for a few weeks afterward.
Falls and injuries are no joke for kids with JA, as they can cause flare-ups. Wet leaves and black ice can make walkways incredibly slippery. To prevent falls, kids and teens with JA must wear shoes with sufficient traction during the fall and winter months.
Of course, this is much easier said than done. While I love my snow boots now, I wouldn’t have been caught dead wearing them in middle school or early high school. Apparently, snow boots or bulky sneakers don’t look cool — though I beg to differ.
You can add traction to shoes by using sprays, tapes, and even gluing sand to the soles. You may need to experiment to see what works best. While a pair of good quality boots is probably your best bet, anything to add a little traction to your child’s shoes makes a difference.
Say farewell to fall
Saying goodbye to fall and hello to winter can be painful and difficult to cope with. The cooler temperatures and wet weather can make joints feel extra sore and stiff, especially as the new season begins. Your child may experience flare-ups as the temperatures drop.
During this time, be extra patient with your child. They may be struggling, especially if the weather conditions are inconsistent. I’m struggling already, and the temperatures have just begun to drop. Small gestures such as having a hot water bottle ready for them after school or gifts of hand warmers go a long way at this time of year.
Note: Juvenile Arthritis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Juvenile Arthritis News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to juvenile arthritis.