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Overcome pain

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Moist heat, hydration and exercise can help you cope with winter-related arthritic aches and pains, says Dr Manan Gujarathi

Winter is a difficult season for most elderly people, especially those suffering from arthritis. The tenacity of this common, yet painful, condition tends to increase during cold, chilly days.

Arthritis means joint pain or joint disease: an inflammation of the joint,  either one at a time or many joints all at once. The symptoms are more common above the age of 60-65 years. Typically, as the mercury drops the symptoms worsen: pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints increase While there is no permanent cure for the condition, many studies suggest that tweaking the diet can help manage the condition.

Surprisingly, the exact science behind cold-related joint aches is still uncertain. Some barometric studies suggest that changes in air pressure can affect joint pain in people with arthritis. Even a slight drop in pressure can be a factor in arthritic joint pain. In addition, blood circulation becomes limited owing to lack of physical activity during this season. It has also been found that in this time, blood circulation is less in the peripheral areas.

Whether there is a connection between joint pain and the weather or not, here are some arthritis pain relief tips

1 Stay warm Especially use some supports to cover and keep the joints warm.

2 Exercise The less sedentary you are, the better your physical function. Walking is one of the best exercises for anyone. So keep moving at least in your home. Exercise eases arthritic pain. It increases strength, endurance and flexibility of your body and reduces pain. However, if you want to do weight training exercises, please run it by your physio first. Wrong exercise can make your pain even worse. I always advise my patients to learn first what you are NOT supposed to do rather than what exercise you have to do.

3 Moist heat Moist heat often eases your arthritic pain. Electric heating pads or hot water bags come in handy, but they have to be used carefully. I have seen people sleep while taking this and some feel that the longer and hotter it is, it will reduce the pain faster, but it ends up in burns on their skin. It should ideally should be around 15 to 20 minutes only. Patients with Neuropathies (diabetic neuropathy) should be more cautious while using moist heat. 

4 Eat healthy Always have a balanced diet. Certain foods which contains Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin K and vitamin C help to naturally combat your joint pain. Avoid foods high in Omega-6 fatty acids, which may trigger painful inflammation.

5 Hydrate Even mild dehydration might make you more sensitive to pain. So keep yourself well hydrated.

6 Lose weight Usually many people become less active in the winter and put on few extra kilos: this can directly  impact their pain.

7 Supplements Low levels of Vitamin D might play a big role in your joint pain. However, it should be taken under a  physician’s supervision.

Always remember that aggravated arthritic pain in winter is a short-term pain and two-thirds of arthritic patients experience it. Following these tips to ease your pain and help you to manage day-to-day activities.

Dr Manan Gujarathi is an orthopedic surgeon at SRV Mamata Hospital, Dombivali

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