Even in sunny Florida, the chilly temperatures during our short winters can exacerbate joint discomfort. Fortunately, managing joint pain during the colder months is not an impossible goal.
Our Integrity Spine and Orthopedics team in Jacksonville, Florida specializes in diagnosing and treating painful spine and joint disorders. Read our guidelines about managing joint pain year-round, including during the winter.
Various factors can influence joint pain, and not everyone reports increased pain during winter. However, several theories may explain why your joints hurt more during colder months:
Drops in barometric pressure may cause stiffness in muscles, tendons, and joint structures, causing increased discomfort. This is especially true for individuals with arthritis.
Cold weather can discourage people from engaging in physical activity, and reduced movement can contribute to joint stiffness and pain. Maintaining an active lifestyle and regular exercise can help keep joints flexible and reduce the risk of pain.
People tend to consume more comfort foods during the fall and winter, especially around the holidays. Because these foods are often high in refined sugars and carbohydrates, they can contribute to inflammation and exacerbate joint pain.
Irregular sleep schedules during the winter may negatively impact your overall health and contribute to increased joint pain. Poor sleep can also increase your risk of hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and other concerning conditions.
Try these steps to protect your joints during the cooler months:
Don’t ignore joint pain. Our team at Integrity Spine and Orthopedics can accurately diagnose the cause of your pain and provide personalized strategies to alleviate your symptoms and protect your joints from further damage. Your strategy may include physical therapy, activity modification, anti-inflammatory medications, injection therapy, and other conservative treatments.
Ensure that you dress appropriately for the weather, and try using compression sleeves or thermal wraps when exercising to provide extra insulation and support for your joints.
You may be tempted to hibernate during winter, but regular exercise is crucial for managing joint pain. Engage in low-impact exercises such as cycling, swimming, walking, or yoga, which can help maintain joint flexibility and strengthen surrounding muscles.
If you prefer living life indoors during winter, try mall walking, going to the gym, or doing home workouts as an alternative to the great outdoors. You can also try changing the timing of your workout by switching your early morning routine to an afternoon workout when temperatures are warmer.
Winter dehydration can contribute to joint stiffness and discomfort. Ensure you stay adequately hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
Additionally, focus on a joint-friendly diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, such as fatty fish, nuts, seeds, and colorful fruits and vegetables. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil supplements or certain foods, have been shown to help alleviate joint pain.
Take time to warm up your muscles and joints before engaging in physical activity. Gentle stretching and range-of-motion exercises can help prepare your body for movement, reducing the risk of injury and minimizing joint pain. Consider warming up in a heated space to avoid exposing your joints to sudden temperature changes.
Make your living space winter-friendly by optimizing it for comfort. Use cushions and supportive pillows on chairs and sofas to support your back and joints. Consider using heating pads or blankets to keep your immediate surroundings warm. Creating a comfortable space can contribute significantly to managing joint pain during the colder months.
For more help with joint pain, schedule a visit at Integrity Spine and Orthopedics. Call the office or request an appointment online.