Cold weather can affect orthopedic problems in several ways. As we all gather together to celebrate a very white Christmas, it’s important to remember to protect your joints.
Cold weather can cause joints to become stiff and painful, particularly in people with arthritis. Some people with arthritis may find that their joints feel more painful and stiff when the weather is cold, damp, or rainy. This may be due to changes in barometric pressure or humidity, which can affect the joints. Cold weather may also cause the muscles and tissues around the joints to tighten, leading to increased pain and stiffness.
Cold weather can make tendinitis, or inflammation of the tendons, worse. This is because tendons and other connective tissues become stiffer in the cold, making them more prone to injury and inflammation.
Tendinitis is a condition that occurs when a tendon becomes inflamed due to overuse or injury. Cold weather itself is not likely to cause tendinitis, but it is possible that being active in cold weather may increase your risk of developing the condition.
Cold weather can cause your muscles and tendons to tense up, which can make them more prone to injury. Additionally, the surface of the ground may be harder and less forgiving in cold weather, which can also increase the risk of injury.
Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become weak and brittle, making them more prone to fractures. Cold weather itself is not likely to cause osteoporosis or make it worse, but it is possible that being inactive or sedentary in cold weather may increase the risk of developing the condition.
Lack of physical activity can lead to decreased bone density, which is a risk factor for osteoporosis. It is important to stay active and engage in weight-bearing exercise to help maintain strong bones. Cold weather may make it more difficult to be active outside, but there are still ways to stay active indoors, such as walking on a treadmill, taking a yoga class, or lifting weights.
If you have osteoporosis or are at risk of developing the condition, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider about the best ways to maintain bone health. They may recommend medications or supplements to help increase bone density and reduce the risk of fractures.
It is also important to consume a diet that is rich in calcium and vitamin D, as these nutrients are essential for maintaining strong bones. Good sources of calcium include dairy products, leafy green vegetables, and almonds, while vitamin D can be obtained from sunlight, fatty fish, and fortified foods such as milk and cereal.
Here are some tips for protecting your joints in cold weather:
- Dress warmly: Wear layers of clothing to help keep your body warm, as this can help reduce joint pain. Make sure to cover your joints, including your knees, wrists, and ankles.
- Stay active: Exercise can help reduce joint pain and stiffness, so try to stay active during the colder months. This can be as simple as going for a walk or doing some stretching exercises.
- Use heat therapy: Applying heat to your joints can help relax the muscles and reduce stiffness and pain. You can use a heating pad, hot water bottle, or take a warm bath or shower.
- Use cold therapy: Cold therapy can help reduce inflammation and numb pain. You can use a cold pack or bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel and apply it to the affected joint for about 20 minutes.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help reduce joint pain and stiffness, as it helps to lubricate the joints.
- Protect your joints: Avoid activities that put too much strain on your joints, and use assistive devices such as canes, crutches or splints/supports to help take the pressure off.
- Use over-the-counter pain medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen can help reduce joint pain and inflammation. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label and talk to your doctor before taking any medications.
It is important for people with orthopedic problems to take extra care to protect their joints and bones in cold weather. Be sure to speak with a healthcare provider if you are experiencing increased pain or discomfort during the colder months. The experienced healthcare team at Dayton Orthopedic Surgery can help alleviate your joint pain, no matter the cause and no matter the weather!