As the temperature drops, a rapid increase in the wide range of bone health issues and joint pain emerge as one of the major health concerns. Mainly the elderly age group is more at risk in this regard. While delaying the initial stages of pain may lead to severe problems like Osteoporosis or Osteoarthritis, the lack of physical activity may aggravate the discomfort caused by the associated pain. It is noteworthy that these days many young individuals also report joint pain problems. Therefore, it’s crucial to be aware of such problems irrespective of age. Although winter chills tend to make us a little idle, it's not wise to completely put one’s joints at risk with a sedentary lifestyle. People suffering from joint pain problems need to be extra cautious. Following are some preventive measures that can help with joint pains, but note that they don’t replace any specific medical advice.
Active lifestyle: It's essential to be physically active, even when it's cold outside. Although one shouldn't work through significant joint pain without a medical professional's assistance, being stiff or having achy joints doesn't mean cancelling one's fitness routine or gym schedule.
Avoid winter weight gain: A sedentary lifestyle during winter can often result in excessive weight gain. Over the holidays, healthy habits tend to slide a bit, with many people packing on extra weight. Although the average gain might not be much, even a slight increase in weight can affect the knees and other joints.
The best rule to keep your weight in check is to understand “calories in versus calories out” and operate with a 500-calorie deficit per day to shed about a pound a week (a healthy, maintainable rate).
Keep yourself warm: Avoid direct exposure to cold air while going out, wear adequate layers and keep yourself warm. Cold fingers and toes tend to ache and feel sore, regardless of whether joint pain is the underlying culprit. Keep gloves or mittens in your car and work bag in case of emergencies. Stash away an extra pair of warm socks to slip on when your feet get chilly.
Stay warm indoors: Keep yourself warm and stay snuggled indoors. If you are diabetic or have other co-morbidities, avoid prolonged use of heating pads and hot water bottles. Be regular with medical advice.
Drink plenty of water: Hydration is the key and is vital during winter chills as well. People often tend to drink more water when it’s sunny and warm, but in the winter, dry air makes one dehydrated, tired, and achy. Don’t neglect adequate water intake.
Eat healthy food: Keep your nutritional intake value high. Avoid fried and sugary food as they tend to increase inflammation in the body leading to joint pain.
Supplement and other treatment: Follow your physician’s recommendations for any vitamin supplements (such as vitamin D) that may get low once the weather gets cold and there is less exposure to sunlight. Your doctor will help you determine the best course of action for winter joint pain relief.
If the pain persists and causes discomfort, seek medical advice immediately and avoid any home remedy, as prevention doesn’t replace the dire need for treatment.
Dr. Saurabh Chandra,
Bone, Joint Replacement and Othopaedics