”Every mile is two in winter” said poet George Herbert.
Many people would agree to that statement. A lot of them, especially sufferers from arthritis, swear by flare-ups of the pain in their joints as a predictor of rainy or cold weather. Can the elements really cause joint pain?
There is no conclusive scientific evidence to support that fact. Some studies have found little or no link between weather and joint pain, while others have found a strong relation between cold, damp days and arthritic flare-ups.
There may be some truth in the old wives' tale that aching joints indicate a change in weather. Research suggests that changes in atmospheric pressure can worsen knee pain in people with arthritis while colder temperatures can cause painful changes in joint fluid thickness.
Whether your flare-ups are sparked by the weather or something else, here are some tips to tame those joints when they are acting up:
This may sound like a no-brainer but dress up in layers, keep your home warm and warm up the car before you get in to ease pain related to cold weather. Add extra layers over knees and legs so that you can remove them or put them on according to the unpredictable Bangladeshi climate.
Eat healthy and stay hydrated
Load up on foods rich in -
Omega-3 fatty acids: These can be found in fish and nuts and may help as they seem to reduce the level of inflammation.
Vitamin K: Make your meals greener with fresh spinach and cabbage, which are abundant in winter, to take advantage of their soothing properties.
Vitamin C: Add colour to your diet with juicy winter oranges and tomatoes to help prevent painful cartilage loss that comes with arthritis.
Vitamin D: Low levels of vitamin D play a role in how sensitive you are to arthritis pain. Vitamin D deficiency also increases the risk for osteoporosis. Get your daily vitamin D fix from cheese, milk and healthy cereals.
Also make sure to drink enough water as even mild dehydration may make you more sensitive to pain.
One of the obvious reasons why cold weather may cause joint pain is that people are less likely to work out when it's really cold. Though your duvet may seem too comfortable to get out of, try to go on your morning walks as exercise helps lubricate joints and prevent pain.
If you feel that it is too cold outside, bring your workout indoors. However, do not overdo it! Choose low impact exercises which are easy on joints and can enhance your range of motion, like yoga or tai-chi. Lifting weights may help as well because it builds joint-supporting muscles.
This applies throughout the year – if you are overweight, try to shed a few pounds. The pain and effort you put into losing weight will go a long way in reducing joint pain.
Finally, some good news after all that talk about eating healthy and tedious work-outs! According to the Arthritis Foundation, warm baths can soothe joints. Also consider indulging yourself in a massage to relieve pain in muscles surrounding the joints.
It is important to realise that the pain is temporary. Take assurance in the fact that these are just the body's reaction to changes in conditions and that they will eventually resolve. Until then, use these tips to enjoy the beautiful Bangladeshi winter with minimal pain.
By Maisha Rumelia Rahman