Tips for Managing Joint Pain

For many people living with joint pain, winter can be a particularly challenging time of year. Cooler temperatures can make joint pain and stiffness worse. Even people who have well-controlled joint conditions may find that their joints feel achy and sore when the weather cools down. This can make it difficult to get moving and stay moving during the winter. Fortunately, there are things you can do to ease joint pain during the cooler months of the year. 

Here at Valerius Medical Group & Research Center, board-certified rheumatologists Nathaniel Neal, MD, and Rebekah Neal-Kraal, MD, believe that developing long-term partnerships with our patients is fundamental to improving their quality of life. Our personalized treatment plans reflect your individual needs and goals. Reducing pain and improving mobility and function is key to living well with a rheumatic condition.

January marks the first full month of winter. As you recover from the holidays and pursue those new year’s resolutions, you must also contend with chilly temperatures, especially in the evening after the sun sets. The following are some practical ways you can keep joint flare-ups in check this winter. 

Why do joints ache in cold weather?

If your joints feel particularly stiff and achy when temperatures dip, it’s not just your imagination. While the exact reason cooler weather triggers joint issues remains unknown, a drop in barometric pressure is likely responsible. 

People with joint pain may be sensitive to changes in barometric pressure. These changes may cause your tissues to expand and make your joints feel stiff and painful. This means cooler weather may make you feel uncomfortable.

Keeping joint pain at bay

Here are some helpful tips to stay mobile and free from joint pain this winter:

Exercise

When your joints ache, exercise may be the last thing that comes to mind. Unfortunately, giving in to the urge to remain sedentary may worsen joint pain and stiffness. Joints that don’t move enough can get stiffer and more painful. 

The solution is to keep moving during the winter months. A priority to keep in mind, though, is to not overdo it. Certain high-impact exercises may exacerbate joint pain. Try low-impact exercises, such as walking, cycling, and swimming. Low-impact exercises can relieve pressure from the knees and hips and help protect your joints. 

If you’re feeling less motivated to stay active during the winter, try a new activity. The excitement of trying a new activity may keep you motivated to stick with it throughout the winter months. Finding a physical activity that you enjoy is the key.

Dress warmly

You don’t have to shut yourself inside during the winter months. While cooler temperatures can make joints achy, you can combat chilly weather by dressing warmly when you’re heading outside. 

Wearing layers is crucial for keeping your joints warm during the winter. It’s best to choose breathable clothing that doesn’t lock in heat and moisture, so you can stay comfortable while outdoors.

Make sure to keep your hands and feet warm, too. Gloves and warm socks are a must for keeping the small joints of your fingers and toes insulated and toasty.

Eat a joint-friendly diet

It can be easy to abandon your joint-friendly diet after the holidays. A busy schedule may cause you to grab packaged foods. However, processed foods made with refined sugar can increase inflammation and trigger joint pain.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all diet for people with joint pain, we do know that sticking to a nutritious diet that emphasizes, vegetables, fruits, beans, fish, and whole grains can help ease inflammation. You should also limit your consumption of fatty meats, whole fat dairy, alcohol, high salt foods, and sugary foods as much as possible.

If you’re struggling with joint pain, the compassionate rheumatology specialists at Valerius Medical Group & Research Center can help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone today.

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