According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 54.4 million American adults suffer from joint pain related to arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or fibromyalgia. When the temperatures drop, people often report that their joint pain gets worse. If you get stiff and achy in colder weather, try these tips for relieving joint pain in winter.
1. Stay Warm
Not only will keeping warm during the winter make you more comfortable all-round, but it can relieve joint pain as well. Dress in warm layers and make sure your hands, knees, and hips are well insulated as these are common problem areas for joint pain. Using electric blankets and heating pads when relaxing can also help, but be careful if you have nerve damage from things like diabetes.
2. Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods
To relieve joint pain in winter, you should add more foods that have anti-inflammatory properties. Foods like avocado, nuts, seeds, and oily fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Fish or krill oil supplements might also help relieve pain in joints. Other foods that have anti-inflammatory ingredients include:
- Turmeric (try this recipe for soothing golden milk turmeric tea)
- Onions, especially the red variety
- Green tea
- Probiotic foods like kefir and yogurt
- Dark green leafy vegetables
3. Keep Moving
If you suffer from joint pain, you probably already know how beneficial staying active is. When you exercise, you keep your joints and muscles from getting too stiff. Plus, strengthening muscles can take the strain off your joints. It can be hard in winter to get moving because it’s cold out, but there are ways to stay active.
An object in motion is more likely to stay in motion, so try moving your workout indoors and try low-impact options like an elliptical trainer. Swimming is always a good choice, especially if you have access to a heated pool at a gym or community center. Just make sure you warm-up and include stretching in all exercise routines.
4. Lose a Few Pounds
This is a hard ask during the holidays, but losing weight can relieve pressure from joints. Set small weight loss goals to lose a few pounds at a time and you may experience some pain relief.
5. Check Your Vitamin D Levels
Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to increase sensitivity to arthritic pain. In the winter, people’s levels of this essential vitamin dip because they spend less time outside exposed to sunlight. Add the fact that it gets dark so much earlier, and, understandably, you may run low on vitamin D. Talk to your doctor about whether supplements may be beneficial for you.
6. Stay Hydrated
When it’s cold out, you may be more likely to forget to drink enough fluids. Just because you’re not hot and sweaty doesn’t mean you’re not losing fluids. During cold and dry weather, you lose moisture through your skin and breath. This can lead to dehydration, which can increase sensitivity to pain.
7. Have a Soak
Warm water can help soothe aching joints as well as the muscles surrounding them. Spend a little while soaking in the bath. Swimming in a heated pool has the added benefit of being a good low-impact workout.
8. Use Caution in Slippery Conditions
If you live in a place where ice or snow is on the ground, make sure you exercise caution while walking in those conditions. The last thing someone with joint pain needs is to slip and fall and exacerbate arthritis or injure themselves. Think about investing in some winter boots with treads that grip slippery surfaces.
9. Take Medication Only When Needed
If you typically manage your joint pain with lifestyle choices, you may still want a little extra pain relief on, particularly bad days. However, before starting any pain relief medication, even the over-the-counter varieties, check with your doctor. He or she can advise you on which drugs are best for you. Be especially wary of relying too highly on things like ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin), naproxen, and acetaminophen if you certain conditions like stomach ulcers or kidney problems.
10. Make an Appointment at South Shore Orthopedics
If you are suffering from joint pain in winter, consider seeing an orthopedic doctor at South Shore Orthopaedics in Hingham, MA. Our experienced staff of physicians, RNs, and PAs can help diagnose and treat orthopedic conditions from chronic joint pain to sports injuries. To make an appointment, call (781) 337-5555. Same-day appointments are available.