Even the fittest among us can be intimidated by winter weather, and the temptation to hunker down indoors can be strong. The research isn't conclusive, but anecdotal evidence tells us that arthritis patients report a direct relationship between levels of pain and the cold, wet weather, with hip and knee pain a common complaint at many of our Ottawa physiotherapy clinics.
The evidence isn't entirely clear why. One study found that arthritis knee pain flared up in many patients in response to changes in barometric pressure. Cold temperatures can cause the fluid that lubricates joints to thicken. Other studies, however, have not been able to confirm those links.
But, reducing your activity levels, however daunting the weather may be, will actually add to any issues you may have, such as stiffness or pain. It's important to keep your joints moving to maintain mobility.
Your Body in the Cold
As you spend time outdoors, your body adjusts to the cold. Your nerve endings become more sensitive, lowering your pain threshold. Your body is focused on keeping your internal organs warm, and so circulation in the rest of your body can suffer. All of those elements can make sore joints even more painful. Exercise improves blood flow to your limbs, an effect that continues even after you stop.
Staying active keeps the synovial (joint) fluids flowing and your joints lubricated. Your Ottawa physiotherapist or chiropractor will help you plan an exercise regimen that takes your current conditions and specific needs into account. Here are some ideas on how to stay active even if you have arthritis or other issues.
Nutrition is important too when you're looking to maintain joint health and mobility. Ask your Ottawa chiropractor or other healthcare practitioner for a referral to a nutritionist if you need recommendations for healthy eating during the winter. Remember to stay well hydrated. Along with the many other benefits, it helps keep your joints lubricated and reduces painful friction.
Braces and other supports can help you maintain mobility even as you heal from an injury. If you are experiencing joint pain, your Ottawa chiropractor or physiotherapy specialist can help to recommend appropriate devices.
Call one of our Ottawa physiotherapy clinics today or drop by to make an appointment for a consultation to get you on the road to joint health and mobility.