5 Tips to protect your joints this winter

By: Dr. Victor Marchione | Pain Management | Monday, December 28, 2015 - 08:00 AM

tips to protect joints in winterThe wintertime can be cold, and for many of us with aching joints the drop in temperature means trouble. You may have noticed when the winter strikes those aches and pains in our knees and elbows worsen, especially if you have arthritis. The wintertime can make simple walking much more difficult, and you may even dread getting out of bed in fear of the pain the cold days will bring. But you don’t have to suffer from wintertime joint pain as long as you follow these helpful tips.

But before we share how to improve joint pain in the winter, let’s discuss why the winter months bring more pain.

The winter worsens joint pain

For many of us joint pain doesn’t actually worsen, but rather our pain threshold decreases during the winter months. Even something as simple as a small cut can hurt more during the winter than it would in the summer.

During the winter our nerve endings become more sensitive due to colder temperatures, which in turn makes us much more sensitive to pain. Another reason why we experience more pain in the winter is a lack of blood circulation. In the winter our body works to keep vital organs – like the heart – warmer, which takes away the blood supply from other parts of the body. This leads to stiffer, more painful joints.

Furthermore, cold weather translates to less activity, so we’re not using our joints nearly as much as we would in the warmer temperatures. Lastly, barometric pressure also plays a role in wintertime joint pain, and as air pressure changes, so does the inflammation in and around our joints.

exercise for healthy jointsNow that we have a better understanding of the factors affecting our joints during the winter, here are some tips you can use to help minimize the pain you feel.

Tips to winter-proof your joints

  • Exercise – As mentioned, a lack of exercise can increase pain, so incorporating exercise into your routine can greatly reduce it. Additionally, exercise increases blood circulation, so it has longer lasting effects on joint pain, even after you’re done moving. Lastly, exercise keeps muscles strong, which is important for those with arthritic pain as it will keep joints together.
  • Eat balanced diet for healthy jointsa balanced diet – Diet, too, plays a role in joint pain. The foods we eat work to keep our bones and muscles strong, so enjoying a balanced meal of fruits, vegetables, grains and protein can go a long way. Furthermore, manyvitamins fight-off inflammation and can work as natural anti-inflammatories. Although it’s important to eat well all-year round, it’s especially important during the winter.
  • Stay hydrated – And we’re not talking about coffee! Drinking plenty of water is important; much of the body is comprised of water. Staying hydrated works to keep the cartilage between joints well lubricated and reduces friction, which ultimately leads to pain.
  • phsiotherapyWear knee supports – Depending on the support you require, your doctor can recommend proper knee support in order to keep your knee in place and stable.
  • Physiotherapy – If you experience high levels of pain, we don’t recommend you head out for a run. A physiotherapist can help ease you into movements and work your way up gradually, building strength while being properly monitored.

By following these tips you won’t have to become a victim of joint pain, and you can begin to move around freely once again to enjoy all that winter has to offer – even if it is cold!

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