Dr. Amite Pankaj Aggarwal, Director and Unit Head, Orthopedics, Bone and Joint Surgery, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh
Winter is not a very pleasant time for the ones who suffer from chronic joint stiffness. The cold weather worsens their symptoms, although the scientific reason behind this relationship is inconclusive, taking a few measures to reduce the joint pain may help in braving the low temperatures.
While there is no concrete evidence of the relationship between cold weather and joint pain, there have been studies that have put the blame on barometric pressure, a measurement of the weight of the air. When cold air moves in then the barometric pressure drops. Hence, there is less pressure on our body from the air. This has the potential to make our tendons, muscles, joints, or scar tissues swell, leading to pain.
Another possible cause for this may be that in winters, some of our blood gets routed away from our arms and legs to our vital organs, this is our body making an effort to keep us warm. However, it takes away the warmth from our joints which results in making them achier. In addition to that, less sunlight during winters results in lower vitamin D levels and leads to weakened bones and joints.
Hence, here are some tips to fight joint pain in winters
- Dress warmly: Depending on the climate of where one lives, they must choose to wear warm winter clothes, or they should dress up in layers. Areas like hands, knees, legs, and other arthritis-prone spaces must be covered well.
- Hydrate: keeping ourselves hydrated helps in keeping us active. Even when one faces mild dehydration, it makes them more sensitive to pain. Hence, it is important to stay hydrated.
- Exercise: While one may want to stay indoors to avoid the winter chills during cold weather, people who face joint pain should still try to remain active. Exercising indoors can be an option to improve the symptoms like joint stiffness and muscle weakness
- Staying warm and cozy: It can be helpful to use an electric blanket, a hot water bag, or, an electric heating pad when resting or sleeping. Heating pads can be used for specific areas where joints have become stiff and painful due to the cold weather
- Taking a warm bath: Swimming in a heated pool is a good exercise and it also soothing for the joints. Hence, relief can be gained from taking a bath with warm water too
- Supplement vitamin D: Low levels of vitamin D in winters may play a role in how sensitive one is towards joint pains. Vitamin D deficiency also raises the risk for osteoporosis. Therefore, it is best to consult a doctor for supplement options
- Increase in intake of omega 3 fatty acids: Omega 3 fatty acids are highly beneficial in reducing the inflammation levels in the joints. Hence, one can include avocado, flaxseed, walnuts, and fish in the diet.
- Maintain a healthy weight: being overweight and obese makes one feel lazy and less active. Therefore, maintaining a healthy weight through exercise can help to help us stay active and in turn will help in easing the joint pain during winters
- Maintaining a healthy diet: While a healthy diet is essential throughout the year, in the winter months, a well-balanced diet helps in keeping the body well while helping us avoid getting run down from illness and the associated aches and pains.
Winters frigid temperatures can do more than just nip at your nose. However, you can continue to enjoy the winter season while taking the mentioned precautions for joint pain. However, if you continue to face continuous discomfort, do consult your primary healthcare expert at the soonest for consultation.