Approximately 20% to 46% of the U.S. adult population suffers from severe joint pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Whether it’s in your wrists, shoulders, knees, hips or elsewhere, though, you may experience more severe and more frequent joint pain during the winter. Medical experts are still trying to understand the reason for this phenomenon, but the general consensus is that cold weather stresses the joints and increases the risk of pain. The good news is that you can protect against joint pain this winter by following a few simple steps.
#1) Stay Hydrated
Drinking plenty of water is a simple and effective way to protect against joint pain during the winter. Our bodies are comprised of roughly two-thirds water, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that staying hydrated is important for your health. Among other things, water regulates your body temperature, sends nutrients to organs, and it also lubricates the joints. Try drinking at least 64 ounces of H2O daily this winter to support your joints.
#2) Wear Gloves
While the reason why cold weather promotes joint pain is unknown, some experts believe that it’s attributed to a lack of blood flow. When exposed to cold weather, the human body sends blood to vital organs so that it can keep them warm. As a result, there’s less blood surrounding the joints, increasing the risk of painful friction. If you experience pain in your knuckles or hands this winter, try wearing a pair of thick gloves or mittens.
#3) Maintain Humidity
The winter season is characterized by cold temperatures and dry air. Unbeknownst to many people, the latter can take a toll on your joints and contribute to pain and inflammation. When the air is dry, your skin will dry out and contract. This forces your joints to also contract, thereby causing pain and inflammation. Unfortunately, you can’t control the outdoor humidity level, but you can control the humidity level inside your home. Invest in a humidifier — a device that releases a light vapor mist — and install it in your bedroom or living room. Once installed, set the humidifier to about 40% to 50% relative humidity. This ensures that the air inside your home isn’t too dry not too moist, which may ease the severity and frequency of joint pain.
Stretching is one of the best ways to combat joint pain, regardless of the season. When you wake up on cold winter morning, try performing a light stretching routine to get your blood flowing. In just five to 10 minutes, you can perform a full-body stretching routine that engages your arms, torso, legs and hands. For joint-friendly stretching ideas, check out this WebMD article.
#5) Watch Your Omega Fatty Acids
Fatty acids can either help or hurt your battle with joint pain this winter. Omega-3 fatty acids, such as ALA, EPA and DHA, have a natural anti-inflammatory effect when consumed. Available in fish, nuts, olive oil, canola oil and other common foods, they reduce inflammation in the body to protect against joint pain. In comparison, omega-6 fatty acids, such as GLA and LA, have the opposite effect: They promote inflammation in the body, making them a poor choice for arthritis and joint pain sufferers. You can still consume omega-6 fatty acids in your diet, but you should focus on omega-3 fatty acids to protect your joints from painful inflammation.
#6) Stay Active
While easier said than done for joint pain sufferers, staying active can reduce joint pain. Many people, however, stay cooped up indoors during the winter. The cold weather prevents them going outside and participating in physical activities like running or playing sports. As a result, joint pain is more common during this time of year. If you’re concerned about joint pain this winter, try to get into the habit of exercising for at least 30 minutes a day. Even if it’s nothing more than jogging on the treadmill, staying active is essential to your joint health. It encourages blood to move throughout your body, including your joints, while also strengthening your muscles in the process.
#7) Create a Comfortable Climate in Your Home
You’re less likely to experience joint pain if you maintain a warm, comfortable climate in your home. There’s nothing wrong with lowering the thermostat a few degrees to save money on heating expenses, but you should avoid dropping it too low. If your home is cold, blood will move away from your joints and contribute to pain. So, what temperature should you set your thermostat for during the winter? Keep it around 68 degrees to 74 degrees Fahrenheit for maximum comfort. Assuming you have a programmable thermostat, you can set the heater to turn on about a half-hour before you return.
Don’t let joint pain lower your quality of life this winter. Contact us today to learn more about our professional chiropractic services and how it can protect your joints from injury and inflammation.Share