So much of how you move and function is based on the multiple types of joints your body possesses. Without them, walking, running, lifting objects, writing, typing, waving, sitting, and many other basic things you take for granted wouldn’t be possible.
You have different joints for specific areas of your body, including your shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, wrists, ankles, fingers, toes, neck, and jaw. Joint pain can come from many sources, including inflammation, injury, and overuse. Whatever the cause, it can worsen when the weather gets colder.
To better determine ways to preserve your joint health, let’s look into the causes of joint pain, what connects this pain and weather changes, and how you can protect your joints when cold weather hits.
Causes of joint pain
Several conditions can lead to joint pain, including:
Several types of arthritis can create inflammation in your joints and damage your cartilage, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout.
Bursae are the small sacs of fluid that cushion tendons and muscles in your joints. Bursitis occurs when bursae become inflamed.
Sprains, strains, fractures, and breaks can all lead to joint pain.
Viral arthritis is the result of inflammation or swelling in joints due to infection.
Inflammation in your tendons can be caused by overuse of specific joints and lead to joint pain.
Other factors that can lead to joint pain are obesity, repetitive motions, poor health, previous injuries, chronic medical conditions, stress, anxiety, depression, and age. Most people experience joint pain in their hands, feet, hips, knees, and spine.
The connection between joint pain and cold weather
The weather doesn’t so much cause more pain as it exacerbates existing problems in your joints. When the weather cools, the drop in barometric pressure leads tendons and muscles located around your joints to expand, and if there’s inflammation there (as is common in many types of joint pain) it only makes the situation worse.
Frigid weather can also heighten pain sensitivity, cause muscle spasms, and slow down blood pressure. So something as simple as temperature changes can affect your body in more ways than you think.
Tips to preserve your joints
Some basic ways to keep your joints healthy in cold weather include:
This seems obvious, but keeping warm inside and dressing in layers when you’re outside helps to prevent the negative effects of the barometric changes associated with cold weather.
Drinking plenty of fluids
Dehydration can increase pain sensitivity, so drinking plenty of water and other fluids can help reduce your chances of yet more pain in your joints and other areas.
Maintaining a healthy weight
Extra weight puts more strain on your joints, so losing weight can alleviate the stress and relieve pain.
A good way to both generate heat and keep your joints moving and flexible is to exercise inside. Treadmills, ellipticals, or just walking can help keep your joints healthy.
Supplements like vitamin D and omega-3 acids found in fish oil can help lower your risks of some conditions that affect joints and reduce the inflammation associated with them.
Joint pain is something everyone deals with at some point, but you don’t have to suffer through the colder months. If you need help knowing how to keep your joints protected, make an appointment at Southern Oregon Orthopedics today. Call our office most convenient to you or schedule your visit online.