To alleviate pain as the season changes, understanding how weather, lifestyle choices and age affect our bodies and joints is essential.
Have you ever heard anyone talk about being able to feel a storm coming? Around our joints and the cartilage on the ends of our bones, we have something called synovial fluid. It acts as a lubricant to allow a comfortable range of motion, which decreases when the temperature changes and the fluid thickens.
As the consistency of synovial fluid changes, it plays a critical role in the day-to-day severity of symptoms we may experience with arthritis. Cleveland Clinic Dr. Andrew Bang, DC explained.
“There is an oily fluid between your joints, and when it is cold or the pressure changes, it can get sludgy, and that prevents the oily fluid from lubricating the joint quite as well and can lead to pain when you move around.”
“The principal role of synovial fluid is to reduce friction between the articular cartilages of synovial joints during movement” the National Library of Medicine reported. Think of it as a lubricant to help your bones move more smoothly, while arthritis is the swelling or tenderness around one’s joints.
With age, the most common arthritis people experience is osteoarthritic, where the cartilage around the joints wears away, causing joint pain. There are other types of arthritis you can experience at any age that involves your immune system. According to Dr. Mariko L. Ishimori, Interim Director at the Cedars-Sinai Division of Rheumatology, our joints operate best in temperate weather. Even though cold weather doesn’t cause arthritis, it can make our bodies more sensitive to pain and discomfort.
The good news is you have some control over your body as it relates to synovial fluid. At any time of year, diet, exercise and sleep are the main factors that will help to maintain a more comfortable, pain-free or pain-reduced life.
Regular low-impact exercise such as walking, swimming or biking also helps with overall joint health. If you are not already exercising regularly, now may be a good time to add some moderate activity to your schedule.
Maintaining a healthy anti-inflammatory diet is just as important as staying active. American grocery options often include processed foods that can add to inflammation. Eating plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts will sustain your body with anti-inflammatory nutrients.
Take stock of what you are eating regularly and make a modest shift — this doesn’t need to be a significant overhaul of your pantry. Start with a few minor food choices. See how it makes you feel and modify from there. You might be surprised by the difference it could make.
Some foods that can cause inflammation are dairy, sugary foods and drinks, and processed meats and cheeses. Try adding something new to your grocery shopping list such as walnuts, garlic, cinnamon or leafy greens. Maybe throw some pineapple in your morning smoothie which is known to have nutrients to help with inflammation. Then look at the list of inflammation-causing foods, and try to eliminate a couple. For a more extensive list, check out some resources from the Arthritis Association’s page.
The Arthritis Association suggests additional methods to find natural relief for arthritis, including acupuncture, massages, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to reduce tension and stress throughout your muscles, bones and joints. These can complement traditional treatments that your physician may prescribe for you. It is also worth discussing the possibility of taking Vitamin D and magnesium supplements if your doctor finds that you are lacking in these important vitamins and minerals to keep your joints performing at their best as you age.