Did you know that over 53 million Americans have arthritis? Those suffering with arthritis often dread the onset of cold weather with pain flare ups. Cold weather can induce joint pain by causing blood vessels to constrict, reducing blood flow, and leading to stiffness. Changes in atmospheric pressure and muscle tightening may contribute to discomfort, while decreased physical activity in colder temperatures can exacerbate joint issues.
A healthy lifestyle can help combat arthritis pain this winter. Incorporate these simple tips into your routine for winter wellness:
Layer up in the colder months. When heading outside, consider wearing gloves, thick socks, a hat, and a scarf. You can always remove layers if you get too hot. While at home, use a heated blanket or take a warm bath if you need to warm up. If you have a difficult time keeping your hands and feet warm, use some heat packs when you head out the door.
Eat a Healthy Diet
There are certain foods that can either cause inflammation or reduce it and inevitably lead to pain and stiffness in the joints. A diet full of prepackaged, processed foods will no doubt cause inflammation in your body. Stay away from these types of foods and those that contain added sugars. Eat a nutrient-dense diet that includes fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats. Make sure you drink plenty of water so you stay hydrated. Healthy joints thrive on a diet consisting of omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish, nuts, and seeds. Eating healthy will also help you maintain a healthy weight and improve your immune system.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Any extra weight you carry around puts more pressure on your bones, joints, and tissues. Osteoarthritis is especially more painful in weight-bearing joints such as the knees, hips, and the spine. Prioritize a healthy diet and stay active so you can maintain a healthy weight.
Exercise is one of the very best actions you can take to improve your health and well-being. Since the weather may pose some challenges, get creative and consider joining a gym or an indoor activity during the colder months. Incorporate strength training, stretching, and aerobic exercise.
Take Vitamin D
During the winter months, it is vital that you get enough vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D have been shown to increase arthritis pain and stiffness. Because people spend most of their days indoors, vitamin D levels naturally decline. Keep a check on your levels and take a supplement if needed.
Get Plenty of Sleep:
Never underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep. Lack of sleep can majorly affect your quality of life. Fatigued people are more sensitive to pain. Your body heals and repairs while you are at rest, so prioritize your sleep.
Making lifestyle adjustments can help relieve your arthritis pain and keep you well this winter. New Jersey Orthopedic Institute offers cutting-edge non-surgical and surgical treatments for arthritis and other joint conditions.
AUTHOR: Vincent K. McInerney, MD, is Board Certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). He is currently the longest standing committee chairman of the Medical Society of New Jersey's (MSNJ) Committee on Medical Aspects of Sports. He has served as team physician and medical coordinator for the United States Olympic Team Handball Federation, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Dr. McInerney has received the Physician of the Year Award for the Eastern Athletic Trainers Association, Physician of the Year for the Passaic County Medical Society, Educator of the Year Award at Seton Hall University, an active member of the Harvard Medical Alumni Association.