Cold weather can really be a pain!

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walkerWe all have aches and pains, and this time of year can have you feeling them more than usual. During colder months, many decrease their activity, exercise less and experience joint pain more. That joint pain can be frustrating, as well as a sign of something serious.

Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis and affects many. It occurs when the cartilage that cushions the joints wears down.

Gregg Graham, ARNP, in Orthopaedics provides a few tips to help stay active when you live with osteoarthritis.

Keep joints moving
Research shows that the painful effects of osteoarthritis develop faster in less active individuals. It is important to keep your joints moving to prevent pain and stiffness from setting in. Think of your joints as a car engine. It’s important to start the engine and lubricate the moving parts frequently to keep them going.

Choose the right activities
When you have osteoarthritis it is important to participate in activities that keep you moving without aggravating your joints. The best exercise options are low impact and in-line movements like riding a stationary bike, swimming or water aerobics. Jogging or walking should be done in moderation and only to tolerance.

Take care of your joints
Be sure to take care your joints, even when you’re not exercising. Knee sleeves and braces can help provide a sense of stability to knees and ankles and cold and heat therapy can help relieve pain. Cold reduces swelling by constricting blood vessels and numbing deep pain, while heat stimulates blood circulation, reducing muscle spasms. Other options include topical creams (Icy Hot, Aspercreme or Biofreeze), or using a cane or walker when walking or standing for long periods.

Fuel your bone health
A healthy diet incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables, including leafy greens, will provide essential vitamins and minerals important for bone health. A healthy diet will support weight loss which can help relieve arthritis knee pain.

Select the appropriate remedies
Joint pain related to osteoarthritis is caused by our bodies’ own process of inflammation. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories work to counteract inflammation and alleviate pain. There are a variety of supplements that can help with joint paint, including chondroitin or fish oil. Consult your primary care physician prior to beginning supplements or medications.

Despite the aches and pains, it is important to care for your joints by keeping your body moving!