As the winter weather sets in, many start experiencing an aching in their joints that worsens the colder it gets. Joint pain, especially in the hands, knees, hips and back, can be aggravated by lower temperatures. The good news is there are some things you can do to help alleviate discomfort in your joints during the winter.
The changes in barometric pressure that come along with colder weather are thought to affect the fluid pressure within joints, causing them to swell slightly and put more pressure on the already ailing joints. This leads to more inflammation which means more pain signals being sent to the brain.
Keeping warm is critical in reducing the impact that plummeting temperatures can have on already sensitive joints. Wear layers when heading outside so body heat is locked in and blood flow stays steady. Covering up joints with braces, wraps or supportive tape can also be helpful in the cold. Investing in warm yet sturdy winter shoes with good gripping soles is also an easy change to ease knee and hip pain when walking on potentially slippery surfaces outdoors.
Another tip for alleviating joint discomfort during the winter is using local heat therapy to relax muscles and increase blood flow to swollen areas. Taking a warm shower or bath can do wonders before bed. You can also use a heat pack or a moist heating pad for twenty minutes on aching joints during the day.
Even if joints are painful, it’s important to keep moving. Long periods of sitting or inactivity lead to more stiffness. Gentle range of motion exercises, or simply walking around the house can help lubricate the joints. Yoga and other low-impact workouts like riding a stationary bike can also improve flexibility and blood flow to gently reduce joint pain. Don’t feel the need to overdo it! Stick to gentle movements.
Lastly, it is important to maintain a healthy diet during the winter months. Omega-3 fatty acids found in foods like salmon, chia seeds and walnuts help combat underlying joint inflammation that causes discomfort. Supplements like glucosamine, turmeric and magnesium are also beneficial for joint health. Boosting antioxidant intake by eating dark leafy greens and berries can also help to reduce pain. Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated is also key to keeping joints well-cushioned.
The winter does not have to mean months of painful swollen joints. Following these tips can go a long way to alleviate the pain. Stay warm and listen to what your body needs this season.
Dr. Marshall P. Allegra is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon in private practice in Monmouth County for over 25 years. Specializing in minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery, full and partial joint reconstruction, hand, foot, and ankle surgery, fracture care, and non-surgical treatment options.
Dr. Allegra is dedicated to providing one-on-one personalized care to every patient. Come to our office and experience NO WAIT TIME. We respect your time and realize you have things to do. That’s why we never overbook or overschedule. Learn more at allegraortho.com or call 732-888-8388 to schedule an appointment