Not-So-Jolly Joint Pain

The holiday season can be tougher if you suffer from joint pain. And with all the shopping and travel, the cooking, cleaning, and socializing, you’ll no doubt need to be in top form if you’re going to make it through.

As the nights stretch longer and the weather chills, joint pain often takes on a more insidious dimension. But why should cold weather affect the joints so much? And what can you do to alleviate the symptoms so you can get back to enjoying your family and friends?

The team at Alabama Orthopaedic Surgeons knows how important the holiday season truly is.  This winter, properly understanding and managing your pain might just get you back into the party mood!


Why Does it Happen?

Unfortunately, there’s no one known reason why cold weather causes at-risk joints to ache more than usual. Theories abound, however, and lay the blame on several familiar culprits.

Swelling, drying, and friction cause most joint pain. But despite the cold’s affect, it isn’t necessarily the temperature itself that’s at fault. Rather, a corresponding drop in barometric pressure during colder months is thought to cause swelling especially in the knees. A rise in barometric pressure, meanwhile, is suspected to cause pain in the hips.

Even though the science is still out on causation, there are several potentially helpful actions you can take to limit, reduce, or prevent additional aches and pains throughout the winter months.


Keep Warm

The most obvious method for alleviation what you’d expect—stay warm.

Layer your clothing if you expect to be outdoors, paying special attention to your knees by wearing thermal underwear, knee braces, or both.  Gloves for your hands and thick socks for your ankles are also a must.

Hot baths in the morning to warm up your joints combined with an electric blanket (or additional blanket) at night keeps you cozy at both ends of the day. Paraffin wax treatments (available from drugstores) coat the affected areas in warm wax to heat up the joints even more.

Though it sounds obvious, planning for each situation and staying warm where you need it most can help avoid some of the winter aches.


Keep Active

It’s easier in the winter to forget your regular fitness routine.  Even getting to the warm gym can be a hassle when your joint pain is at its worst

Even so, staying active throughout the holiday season can help reduce the swelling and pain made worse by the cold. Try new (or favorite) exercises that are gentler on the joints. Yoga, swimming, barre, and Pilates are good winter choices and are usually done in a nice, heated setting.

If you absolutely must go outside for your exercise, don’t forget to dress your joints for warmth and limber up beforehand. Stretching is key to avoiding tears or other unnecessary pain when exercising in the winter.


Try Something New

If your joint pain seems unmanageable during the winter months, it may be time to experiment with other treatments.

Massage treatments from licensed specialists can relax and rejuvenate you. Some joint pain suffers have experienced success with vitamin supplements and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. As always with new or even holistic treatments, consult a physician first to make sure that it’s safe for you.


Happy (Painless) Holidays

Much like the science concerning cold weather and joint pain, there’s no singular solution to being pain-free during this busy season. By keeping warm, staying active, and trying new remedies, you give yourself the best chance for success.

If nothing seems to work, consult a physician at Alabama Orthopaedic Surgeons today. Options abound for managing your pain so you can get back to family, friends, and all the festivities of the season.

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