Many people say their joints are more painful during the colder months and there are several reasons why this could be. Not only does your pain threshold tend to drop the colder you are, you’re also likely to be less active when it’s cold outside, and inactivity can make joint pain worse. Another reason is the change in barometric pressure, which causes tendons, muscles and surrounding tissues to expand. Because of the confined space within the body, this too can cause pain, especially in joints affected by arthritis.So, you’re not imagining it! There’s a good chance your joints are more painful at this time of the year. The good news is there are measures you can take to help reduce pain and stiffness.
Wrap up warm
Warmth relaxes muscle tension and can help considerably with most pains. But that doesn’t mean head for the duvet! On the contrary, don your woollies and venture out. Regular, gentle exercise will help you maintain a healthy weight, which in turn lessens the stress you place on joints, helping to improve the pain of arthritis.
Joint pain and diet
Diet really is important when it comes to joint health because what we eat can impact how our joints feel – some foods can help with joint pain, others can make it worse. Inflammation is your body's way of healing and repairing itself as well as protecting itself from foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria. When we eat highly processed, artificial foods that aren’t natural or found in nature, it comes as no surprise that our bodies recognise these foods as foreign too.
Good foods for arthritis
Eating less of the foods that increase inflammation and lots more of the anti-inflammatory foods that help to reduce it, can help: reduce your intake of coffee, alcohol, fizzy drinks and foods made from refined white flour and white sugar, as these foods are known to promote unhealthy levels of inflammation.
Do eat lots of oily fish or plant oils, nuts and seeds, and plenty of fresh vegetables and berries; they are packed with nutrients and antioxidants that can help to reduce inflammation, and our spiky friend pineapple is worth singling out as it contains an anti-inflammatory enzyme called bromelain. Replace refined foods with brown rice, millet, barley, quinoa or buckwheat. These foods can be eaten in their whole form, or try the pastas, noodles, breads and crackers made from them in place of your usual choices.
Anti-inflammatories can also help. Devil’s Claw for example, or Harpagophytum, a plant only found in the Kalahari Desert of South Africa, has been used for many years to help reduce rheumatic, muscle and joint pain. Studies suggest that long-term use of Devil’s Claw is not only safe but may also lead to improvements in those with chronic lower back pain. A. Vogel’s Atrosan® Devil’s Claw tablets may be used as a rheumatism product for the relief of joint and muscular pain in adults and the elderly.
Spices for inflammation
Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that are known to help relieve muscle soreness, menstrual cramps, headaches and arthritis. It is thought to relieve joint pain by blocking several enzymes that promote inflammation and discomfort. One study found that ginger reduced pain and stiffness in the knee joint in people with osteoarthritis by 40%!
Turmeric also has heaps of anti-inflammatory potential. It looks a lot like an orange version of its plant-cousin ginger, and like ginger is well-documented for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action in the body. This is due largely to a chemical compound called curcumin, which is thought to slow down the inflammatory pathways if used in the treatment of conditions such as arthritis.
Now where did you put those walking boots?