Arthritis and Cold Weather
The cold weather is coming and for arthritis suffers that means that joint pain and stiffness is coming, as well. This is why many elderly patients have second homes in the deep south which they use as a winter retreat. For the rest of us, we have options to make it more tolerable. That being said, this is general advice and you should have a healthcare practitioner go over your case before implementing any of the advice given. The following is advice that helps many, if not all, of my friends, family and patients…just be careful when trying anything new to you.
First we need to understand what the term “arthritis” means. Well, “artho” means “joint” and “itis” means “inflammation”. So we have inflammation of a joint(s). What can increase or decrease inflammation in the joints? A huge thing often overlooked about pain is that it is often related to the nutrients put into the body. Remember that wheat, gluten, soy, corn, sugar and dairy are inflammatory and cause all sorts of negative symptoms. This is true whether or not we can physically feel it immediately. I always recommend that patients limit their intake of these food ingredients and generally most people see improvements in various ailments.
In addition to watching the bad stuff that goes into the body, we need to increase the good stuff that goes in as well. Obviously, fresh fruits and vegetable should make up most of the diet anyway. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables will help protect the joints from more damage but that is not enough alone. This next recommendation is a key player in management of relief but is 100% dependent on quality. Simply put, high quality can help and poor quality can make it worse. Studies tell us that almost everyone is vitamin D deficient, especially in winter. I supplement with vitamin D all year. It is inexpensive and very important. Vitamin D is not a vitamin at all, it is a neuro-hormone. The catch is that quality counts!
Another amazing nutrient that we are often deficient in is Omega-3 fatty acids. Yes, these have been surrounded by controversy and for good reason. The VAST MAJORITY of supplements are total junk and in some cases, harmful. Poor quality fish oil is rancid and contains heavy metals. This is why quality counts! If you have questions about quality, look up what the FDA found out about GNC, Wal-Mart, Target, & Walgreens back in February of this year when they test their herbal products. This is why I am extremely selective about which products that I use for my family, my patients and myself. Please, come by the office and get educated. These oils have tons of studies supporting their use for helping the body, so please don’t be afraid of the one or two “studies” that come out randomly demonizing these. Omega-3 acids are “essential” acids that we MUST consume and cannot produce. Another benefit is that these do not have the list of side effects that NSAIDS do. Glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM are other components that can both protect the joint and relieve pain. Above and beyond these nutrients, we also use specifically target therapeutic nutrition products or protocols when the patient needs further relief.
Generally, cold temperatures will reduce inflammation. Lay a thin towel down on the skin and use cold packs or frozen vegetables over the area of pain to reduce the pain and inflammation. This works well with injuries as well. You can leave the cold pack on for up to 20 minutes. After the 20 minutes, leave nothing on the area for at least 30 minutes. Some people find that this can make things worse with arthritic pain. I find that alternating 20 minutes of ice with a 30 minute break and then applying 20 minutes of heat works the best. Some people do use heat alone with success, also. Just remember that heat will increase circulation and thus inflammation. While reducing stiffness it may contribute to your pain.
Dr. Zeronis is a Frankfort sports-oriented chiropractor at Align Your Spine Chiropractic. He and his associate, Dr. Dayna Socha, DC, operate a wellness center that is “beyond chiropractic”. These doctors utilize therapeutic nutritional protocols to manage many common ailments and have a far reaching patient base with sports and athletic performance as an emphasis. It is not uncommon for patients to drive from other states to seek their unique approach.