Joint pain can occur at any time throughout the year, but many individuals report that their symptoms worsen significantly during the winter months. In a Facebook survey conducted by The Weather Channel, 42 percent of respondents blamed cold weather as the number one trigger for aching knees and hips. What is it about frigid temperatures that exacerbate joint pain?
Scientific evidence has not been able to clearly identify the connection between sore joints and winter weather. Some studies have found that changes in barometric pressure can trigger knee pain in arthritis patients and cooler temperatures may affect the thickness of joint fluid. Evidence also shows that cold, damp days are linked to greater discomfort from arthritis. However, other studies have failed to uncover any connection between joint pain and the weather (Source: The Weather Channel).
Whether or not scientific evidence supports your winter symptoms, you can still take steps to prevent your joint pain from worsening when the temperatures begin to drop. Here’s what you can do to preserve your joints during the cold winter months:
Dress in layers and wear thick gloves or socks to keep your joints warm at all times. Muscles that are cold will tighten and may put painful pressure on joints.
One reason arthritis tends to flare up in the winter is because people change their exercise routines. Find ways to stay physically active indoors to keep joints from becoming stiff and painful. Regular exercise will also prevent winter weight gain which can contribute to sore joints.
Center your diet around vitamin-rich foods that will build healthy joints. Salmon, mackerel, walnuts and chia seeds are excellent sources of Omega-3 fatty acids to prevent joint inflammation. Foods high in vitamin C, such as oranges, kale and red peppers, help to form collagen and support connective tissue in the joints.
Take vitamin D supplements
Staying indoors during the winter can affect our vitamin D levels and may influence arthritis pain. If it’s too cold to spend time outdoors, talk to your doctor about adding a daily supplement (Source: Everyday Health).
You may not have control over the weather, but you can take preventative measures to control how the weather affects your joints. Do your best to stay warm, eat a healthy diet and adhere to an exercise routine throughout the winter months and keep joint pain under control. Managing your winter symptoms will allow you to enjoy life and stay active all year long.