When the cooler temperatures of fall and winter strike, it is not uncommon to hear complaints about increased joint pain. Some people believe that there is a correlation between fluctuating temperatures and precipitation levels, and the pain they experience within their bodies.
Robert Newlin Jamison, PhD, is a professor in the departments of anesthesiology and psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He reviewed a study published in the journal Pain, and discovered that two thirds of the people interviewed about their chronic pain said that they were “sure that weather seems to affect their pain.” Most people even reported that they could tell when the weather was about to change by the increased pain they experienced the day before.
For those who prefer to venture outdoors for exercise, make sure you dress in layers. Joint pain can be exacerbated by cold temperatures, making you feel more stiff – one study found that as temperature decreases, knee pain increases. Dressing for the weather will help keep your pain at bay and encourage you to brave the cool temperatures and enjoy some winter activities.
In addition to healthy fats found in nuts, oils and seeds, a diet rich in minerals and vitamins, fiber, leafy green vegetables and protein will even out blood sugar, calm anxiety, boost your energy levels and reduce inflammation and joint pain. Other great side effects of a healthy diet include clear bright skin, a flat tummy and silky hair. Speak with a Registered Dietitian to learn more about healthy foods that can improve your arthritis or joint pain.
A massage from a Registered Massage Therapist can improve circulation and reduce pain in sore joints and muscles for people with all kinds of arthritis. The gentle kneading of the skin will increase flexibility and be wonderfully relaxing as well.
Staying active is crucial during the winter months to not only manage your joint pain, but to also maintain your flexibility. Low impact exercises that you can enjoy indoors, such as riding a stationary bike or walking on a treadmill, will increase blood flow and loosen stiff joints. Another positive aspect of exercising regularly is weight loss. Less weight on your body equals less stress on your joints, which will increase flexibility and relieve pain.
It is difficult to get enough vitamin D during the winter months in North America. Vitamin D drops, pills and nutrient rich fruits and vegetables can prevent joint pain in winter months. Healthy fats, such as avocado and fish oil are also great lubricants for joints and contribute to overall body health.
In addition to dressing for the weather, applying heat to sore joints can greatly improve your pain. Apply a heating pad or hot water bottle, soak in a warm bath, or refresh your body with a relaxing shower. Be careful when applying heat that you do not over-do it.
As cooler weather approaches, now is the time to focus on preventing your joint health. With a few simple steps you can reduce your pain and experience a more enjoyable winter.
What other methods have been effective at reducing your joint pain? We’d like to hear your suggestions in the comments below.