Does the cold make your joints painful and stiff? Winter can lose its charm if you suffer from conditions that are worsened by cold temperatures and reduced sun exposure.
To help you out, Bonaventure Ngu, MD, of Premier Spine Institute in The Woodlands, Humble, and Baytown, Texas, explains five ways you can decrease your chances of suffering flare-ups of joint pain this winter.
1. Keep your blood pumping
In the winter, the blood that flows toward the peripheral areas — your arms and legs — decreases to keep your internal organs warm. This restricted blood flow can lead to stiffness and pain.
However, there’s one way to increase blood flow throughout your body regardless of the reading on the thermometer: exercise. Even a 30-minute walk can make a difference.
2. Cut down on caffeine
Certain plant chemicals can interfere with your absorption of calcium, which is essential for good bone health. Caffeine, a plant phytonutrient, has the capacity to bind to calcium and prevent its absorption. Drinks that may contain caffeine include hot cocoa, sodas, coffee, and tea.
Some brands of instant oatmeal also contain caffeine to promote high energy levels in the morning.
3. Lose weight
It’s no secret that carrying a few extra pounds puts more pressure on your joints. To reduce the pain, aim to make a few lifestyle changes if you’re overweight or obese.
Cooking food from whole ingredients, counting calories, and eliminating processed sugar from your diet can make it easier to keep your weight at an optimal level.
4. Get enough vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for optimal immune function and bone health. Unfortunately, 42% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D, increasing their risk for an array of illnesses.
During the summer, with sufficient sun exposure, you should be able to stock up enough vitamin D in your liver to prevent you from becoming deficient in the winter. Supplements are another option, but these shouldn’t replace healthy behaviors — such as spending time in the sun — as studies suggest that vitamin D supplements may not provide the same heart-protective properties.
5. Drink bone broth
Hyaluronic acid is found throughout your body. In the joints, it has the role of promoting cartilage growth, reducing inflammation, and keeping joints lubricated.
A good way to increase your production of hyaluronic acid is to give your body all the components it needs to make its own hyaluronic acid. You can help in this effort by drinking bone broth, which is rich in collagen, calcium, and magnesium.
If your joints cause a lot of pain and discomfort and don’t respond to home care remedies, contact us to schedule an appointment. Our experts at Premier Spine Institute can help you manage your pain and regain your mobility.