Managing Joint Stiffness and Pain During Winter
Winter is a welcome change after the sweltering summer heat. However, It also brings with it a lot of discomfort for those suffering from joint pain and stiffness. During winters, the symptoms worsen, especially for arthritis patients. The joint pain and stiffness of the patients increase during the season. Their mobility is thus reduced and affects their day-to-day activities.
Dr Vijay Kumar Sohanlal, a senior specialist in joint replacement and orthopaedics at MGM healthcare and Mahi Clinic – Chennai, explained some of the reasons responsible for the worsening of symptoms. He said that during winters, the blood circulation to the fingers and toes may get affected, increasing the arthritis pain. The pressure drop may also cause swelling in joints leading to more stress and pain. The pain receptors also become more sensitive and increase the pain perception of the patients. Another possible reason is the lower intake of vitamin D due to reduced sunlight. Vitamin D helps better absorption of calcium by the body and lack of these nutrients leads to weaker and painful joints.
Dr Vijay also mentioned some of the ways to manage joint stiffness and pain during winters. They are:
Exercises and Activities
We tend to avoid exercising and outdoor activities as the weather gets colder. However, this can adversely affect arthritis patients when inactivity leads to weight gain. Even little weight gain can put immense pressure on the joints, leading to a considerable increase in pain and stiffness. Therefore, it’s important to maintain an active lifestyle that includes exercise and other physical activities. This will help you avoid putting extra stress on your joints.
Even if weight is not a consideration, an active lifestyle is essential as it improves joint mobility and functioning. If you can’t go outside, try indoor exercises like stretching and yoga. These activities will reduce stiffness and keep your joints moving well.
A healthy diet is as important as an active lifestyle. Your diet must have nutrients that are essential for your bones and joints. They help in reducing inflammation and strengthen the joints. They may also play a role in slowing down cartilage loss – a cause of pain and joint problems.
This is not an alternative to physical activity but may help soothe your joints and muscles. Massage may also help you in pain management and muscle relaxation. Consult an excellent orthopaedic doctor or a physical therapist for sound advice.
This comes naturally during summers, but we tend to consume less water due to lack of thirst during winters. It’s necessary to stay hydrated at all times. You can try warm drinks like green tea. They can be soothing and provide some relief from inflammatory pain. About 3-4 litres of water must be consumed daily.
This is a no-brainer, but nonetheless, an important reminder. Whether you stay indoors or go out, wear clothes that keep you warm. If the temperature drop is significant, layer yourself up including your fingers and toes. This keeps your joint from feeling sore. Warm clothing will also help you stay active as you can go out and move around. You may also try compression socks and gloves which improve blood circulation and retain heat. Make sure the temperature controllers in your room are serviced and in working order.
You must consult your doctor for any supplements and medications that may be recommended for you. Anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving medicine can be helpful if your doctor recommends it. It’s advisable to share your concerns with a reputed orthopaedic doctor.
Health is of paramount importance and you must stay proactive towards it. Get a regular check-up and understand the risk factors concerning your health.