If you have arthritis or joint pain, you may have noticed that your joints feel sore and achy when the weather gets cold. This isn’t your imagination; in fact, studies have shown that weather changes may increase pain. Some experts believe that joint pain worsens during the cold because your muscles, ligaments, and joints become stiffer in lower temperatures. You may notice your joints hurt more when there are changes in:
- Barometric pressure (especially barometric pressure drops)
- Temperature (especially in colder temperatures)
Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to minimize joint pain during the winter months:
1) Keep your joints warm
Knees seem to have a built-in barometer, and colder weather often causes them to be painful, achy, and stiff. Keep your knees warm with a knee wrap. You can also dress warmly by investing in thermal or long underwear or trying hand or leg warmers to keep your body warm. When you go outside, remember to wear layers. If knee pain is an issue for you, try wearing a longer coat to keep your knees warm.
2) Stay active indoors
While it's tempting to skip exercise during the winter months, people with arthritis and joint pain can find plenty of ways to stay active. The more active you are, the better your body will function, according to a study reported in the Arthritis Care & Research journal. Ask your doctor to help you develop a sensible indoor exercise plan. You can walk in the mall, take a yoga class, go swimming, or ride a stationary bike. The goal is to keep your body moving so you can avoid joint pain and stiffness.
3) Watch out for ice
Slippery driveways and sidewalks are troublesome for people, especially those who deal with arthritis and joint pain. If you have balance problems caused by arthritis, your risk of falls and injuries increases. To avoid slips and falls, wear footwear that has extra treads or grips and use a walker or cane if you feel unsteady on your feet. Also, be present when walking. Avoid distractions when walking and don’t talk on your phone or text.
4) Try an Epsom salt bath
Take advantage of hydrotherapy during the winter months. Relaxing in an Epsom salt bath can help, as it can soothe painful, stiff joints. If you don’t like to take baths, you can also find joint pain relief by swimming in a heated pool. You’ll not only get a great total body workout – you’ll also be doing something kind for your joints.
5) Skip the Shoveling
While you might thing that shoveling snow for just a few minutes won’t hurt your joints, think again. In addition to risking a fall or straining your joints, the time you spend shoveling in the cold will likely cause your joints to be sore and painful later. Instead of shoveling, ask a family member to shovel your stairs or driveway. Better yet, hire someone who can clear the snow with a shovel or plow.
6) Use Heat Therapy in Moderation
Using heat therapy such as a heating pad or warm packs might sound appealing to you. However, it is easy to burn yourself, especially if you fall asleep with the heating pad. If you want to use a heating pad or warm packs, check with your doctor first to find out whether heat therapy can help you. If your doctor approves of using heat therapy, limit its use to 10 or 15 minutes, and never take a heating pad to bed. It’s too easy to fall asleep while you’re using a heating pad.
If your arthritis or joint pain worsens during the winter months, you can take steps to feel better. Remember that caring for your joint health year-round is important to good health. Flexogenix® offers nonsurgical treatment options so you can avoid risky surgical procedures and maintain your active lifestyle. Contact Flexogenix today to schedule a free consultation to learn more about nonsurgical treatment options that help you manage joint pain.