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Chilled to the Bone: 5 Tips to Help Relieve Winter Aches

How to Ease Winter Joint Pain

Winter months can be a time of joy, but they can also bring knee, hip and back pain.

"Temperature changes affect our joints and muscles," says Northwestern Medicine Orthopaedic Specialist Kevin Baidoo, MD. "Our joints are supported by muscles, tendons and ligaments. They all come together to make our joints work. When barometric pressure changes, that can cause our bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments to expand." As a result, joints have less ability to move freely, which can cause pulling and discomfort.

You are more likely to feel joint pain during the winter if you have arthritis or other conditions that can cause chronic pain. To help keep the pain away, Dr. Baidoo suggests five ways to improve your overall joint health.

1. Maintain a healthy weight.

Weight puts pressure on your joints. Too much pressure can cause strain and discomfort. Maintaining a healthy weight helps to ensure your joints are not overloaded.

2. Eat well.

A balanced diet that includes lean protein, fats and fiber can reduce aches in your joints. Avoid unhealthy choices, such as processed foods, that cause inflammation.

3. Stay active.

 "As people get older, they start to feel aches and pains," Dr. Baidoo says. Resist the urge to abandon your active lifestyle, which can impact your overall health. Dr. Baidoo recommends walking in the mall or around an indoor track during the winter months to keep your joints healthy.

4. Stay warm in the winter.

Protect your joints from the cold weather by dressing warm. When you are bundled up, your muscles are warm, making them more elastic and ready for activity.

5. Get stronger.

Choose exercises that strengthen your muscles, tendons and bones. They will be better equipped to act as shock absorbers and reduce pressure on the joints, leading to less joint pain.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If you experience symptoms such as persistent pain, swelling or any redness in the joint, it is time to see your physician.