The winter months can mean different things to different people. But when I think about winter I imagine a snowy night, the smell of a warm fire and the crispness in the air. No, your depiction of winter is different? You are not alone. With the cold weather months come the dry skin, common colds and most, unfortunately, joint pain.
Cold-weather joint pain is definitely a thing and not at all in your head. Though there is little research as to why exactly cold weather can cause an increase in joint pain, there are some theories that may be able to shed some light.
- Your body will try to conserve heat and send more of your blood to your organs. Therefore decreasing blood flow to your arms, legs, and shoulders causing those areas of the body to become stiffer, and that stiffness leads to pain.
- When it is cold and damp out, the changes in barometric pressure can cause an inflammatory response in your joints. This increased inflammation can lead to joint pain due to the changes in your circulation.
But even if the exact source of your joint pain is unclear, there are still things you can do to reduce joint pain and enjoy the cold season just a little bit more.
- Dress in Layers- Try to ease the shock the cold weather will have on your joints and dress warmly preferably in layers. Keep in mind not all layers are created equal! Investing in quality base layers as well as good winter clothes will last you for years to come and offer better protection against cold days.
- Exercise- I know you may be tired of hearing that you should exercise, but exercise will strengthen your muscles around your joints, reducing the pressure making them less prone to injury. Though exercise may not have a direct impact on the pain caused by the cold weather, it will make a difference in your daily function and reduce joint pain long term. Plus, exercise boosts production of your body’s synovial fluid, which keeps your joints lubricated and feeling good!
- Get Some Rest- In a study published by Harvard University, researches found that maintaining a routine of high-quality sleep is one of the most important things you can do to reduce physical pain. Sleep and pain exist in a complicated relationship with one another. Pain can interfere with sleep and insufficient sleep can contribute to pain by increasing its intensity and your discomfort. So, catch some zzz’s!
- Consume Anti-Inflammatory Foods- Spices such as ginger and turmeric are packed with strong anti-inflammatory properties and are full of antioxidants. Flaxseeds, chia seeds, wild salmon, trout and sardines are packed with Omega 3 Fatty Acids which have been shown to reduce inflammation and are particularly helpful in reducing joint pain.
- Avoid Inflammatory Foods- Just how there are foods that are anti-inflammatory, there are foods that contribute to the inflammation that leads to joint pain. Foods filled with sugar, refined grains like white rice are some of the worst food culprits that contribute to food-induced inflammation. Next time you find yourself reaching for the sugar maybe try reaching for a natural sweetener such as honey or maple syrup. Small changes can lead to big ones!
Lastly, we want you to feel great all year round! But if you are experiencing persistent joint pain discuss your options with your doctor. In the meantime, stay warm… Spring and Summer are not that far away!
About Dr. Richard Jin | Dr. Jin (http://www.rjclinicalinstitute.com/dr-jin/) studied at the Boston University School of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and the University of California Irvine. He completed research in the areas of cardiovascular disease, pulmonary hypertension, antioxidant enzyme properties, cell signaling, cellular redox mechanisms, free radical-induced oxidant stress, platelet biology, growth factors, and wound healing. Dr. Jin serves as Chief Medical Officer for Benev Company Inc., driving their research and product pipeline development and continues to develop technological advances in wound healing and regenerative medicine. Today is the founder and CEO of RJ Clinical Institute, providing Platelet Rich Plasma therapy and treatments to patients with hair loss, joint and skin issues.
Featured image by Jasper guy