Cold weather making your joints ache? Brrrr! The days are getting short and cold. For a lot of people that means joint pain, especially if they have arthritis. We polled RealAge Facebook fans to find out what triggers their hip and knee pain, and 42% blamed cold weather -- by far the leading cause. But can the elements really make your joints ache?
The scientific evidence is conflicting. Some studies find a strong relationship between short, cold, damp days and arthritis flare-ups. Research from Tufts University suggests changes in barometric pressure worsen knee pain in people with arthritis, while colder temperatures can cause painful changes in the viscosity of joint fluid. Other studies have found little or no link between weather and joint pain.How old are your hips, knees, and hands? Find out with our JointAge Test.
Well, tell that to our Facebook fans who say a cold snap does aggravate joint pain. Whether your aches are sparked by the weather or other causes, these three steps can help you feel better.
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (think salmon and nuts) help curb inflammation to ease joint pain. Leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, may also help quell painful inflammation, as can antioxidants in green tea.
Oranges, red peppers, tomatoes, and other foods packed with vitamin C can help, too. They halt the cartilage loss (and resulting pain) that comes with arthritis.Load your plate with these 8 foods that fight chronic pain.
Avoid foods high in omega-6 fatty acids (such as corn oil), which may trigger painful inflammation. Also swap refined grains for whole grains. Early research suggests refined grains have an inflammatory effect, whereas high-fiber whole grains may help quiet inflammation.
Glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin may help by nourishing cartilage and increasing lubrication in your joints. A large-scale study funded by the National Institutes of Health found a daily combo of 1,500 milligrams of glucosamine and 1,200 milligrams of chondroitin might help ease symptoms in people with moderate-to-severe joint pain.
Also make sure you're getting plenty of vitamin D (look for a supplement with 1,000 milligrams of D3, the kind your body manufactures from sunlight) to help keep your bones strong and prevent joint pain.
Check with your doctor first because some supplements can interact with prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
One reason cold weather is linked to joint pain is people are less likely to work out when it's chilly and damp. A recent study of elderly Chicago-area arthritis patients found people are significantly more sedentary when days are short, wet, and cold. Being a couch potato is bad news for your joints because exercise helps lubricate your joints to prevent pain.
Too cold out? Bring your workout indoors -- and don't overdo it! (Ten percent of our Facebook fans said intense workouts trigger joint pain.) Choose low-impact aerobic moves that are easy on joints, such as walking, and yoga or tai chi, which enhance your range of motion. Lifting weights can also help, as it builds joint-supporting muscles.
Get more health tips from RealAge:Take the new RealAge Test to discover if you're older than your years.
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