6 Ways to Alleviate Joint Pain and Stiffness Caused by Winter
Are you feeling more aches and pains and getting sore faster in the winter? Doctors say that colder temperatures can worsen conditions associated with chronic pain. Here are a few things you can do to help alleviate these winter nags.
Dr. Mark Gourley of the National Institutes of Health says that it's not actually the cold weather that can worsen chronic pain conditions like arthritis. But he says that many with lupus or rheumatoid arthritis will have stiffer joints when waking up on a cold morning. This can cause more pain until the body has warmed up.
Why? Have you ever heard people say they can tell if the weather is changing by the feel of their joints? It's because weather changes alter the pressure exerted on your joints by surrounding tissues. When it's cold, the air pressure is low and these tissues expand slightly, which puts more pressure on your joints, which can lead to stiffness and pain.
If you have Raynaud's disease, you should take more care in cold weather because the temporary lack of blood to your tissues can lead to frostbite. Dr. Gourley recommends you take extra precautions keeping your extremities warmed (hands, toes, fingers) because these are at higher risk of frostbite and tissue death.
If you have plantar fasciitis, cold and inclement weather may indirectly cause more foot pain. You might be wearing stiff boots that protect your feet from the snow, ice, and cold, but their stiffness also may put more strain on your plantar fascia. You can help make your boots more comfortable and more friendly to your plantar fascia by padding them with special insoles for plantar fasciitis. Choose medical-grade support insoles for the best protection.
Dr. Gourley also recommends you do the following to help protect yourself from the cold weather's possible detrimental effects on your condition:
Wear mittens instead of gloves. Mittens allow your fingers to share warmth, which helps lower your risk of frostbite.
Make sure to bundle up. Always cover from head to toe to keep your body warm and your joints flexible. It also helps prevent frostbite.
Preheat your car. Preheat your car before getting in to avoid unnecessary discomfort and painful suffering from sitting in a cold car on cold seats and placing your hands on a cold steering wheel, which can affect your driving ability if you have arthritis.
Keep your body warm indoors. If you want to avoid waking up with stiff joints or to help keep your joints flexible throughout the day, you should keep your body warm. Dr. Gourley advises you sleep under an electric blanket so you can wake up warmer. When dressing up in the morning, you can preheat your clothes in the dryer to help your body warm up. You can also drink hot beverages throughout the day to keep your body temperature warm.
Exercise your joints before going outdoors. Dr. Gourley explains that exercise loosens up stiff joints and also helps you get warmed up before you head out into the cold.
Lose weight. More body weight puts more strain on your joints. If you're overweight, try losing a couple of pounds. You may experience less joint pain and stiffness. If diet and exercise is hard for you – doing something as simple as replacing your fatty meats with healthy vegetable-based protein powders can help boost your metabolism and burn your fat. Doing so also helps prevent diabetes and heart problems.
Prevent joint stiffness this winter by trying these methods. They'll also help alleviate your chronic pain.