If you suffer from joint stiffness and pain in your legs when you're exposed to cold conditions, take steps to ease your discomfort in the winter. A number of adults who have arthritis experience inflammation, swelling and discomfort in their bodies' joints. Although it's uncertain as to why cold weather affects people with arthritis, some sources consider a lack of blood circulation to the legs, arms, feet, and hands and an increase in pressure around the joints as the causes of cold weather joint pain. Here's what you should know about your joints and steps to ease your pain.
Why Do You Have Cold Weather Joint Pain?
Your joints use different soft tissues to connect bones together. The tissues also give you the ability to move your arms, legs, hips, and other critical parts. If the tissues become inflamed or irritated, your joints stiffen up. You may notice that the joints in your hips, knees and ankles feel stiffer in the morning than any other times of the day. A lack of mobility during the night and a lack of daily exercise are two causes of morning stiffness. Your joints may lock in place from these problems. If the temperatures are low in the morning, your joint pain becomes even worse.
Some sources recommend wearing extra layers of clothing to warm up your body when you experience a joint condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis. You can also sleep with extra blankets or socks to prevent heat loss in your body at night. In addition to the suggestions above, you can exercise your aches away.
How Can You Warm Up Your Joints?
The soft tissues between each joint rely on special fluids to keep them healthy and free of inflammation. If the fluids dry out, your joints swell up and become painful. Heat helps the joints of your body relax and receive the blood circulation they need to stay healthy and warm.
You can apply heat packs to your inflamed joints, or you can do the following exercise every evening or morning to warm up your stiff, achy joints:
- Lay flat on your back on a soft floor mat or wide bed. You need plenty of room to perform the exercise.
- Place your arms down by your sides with the palms facing down to steady your body.
- Take in a deep breath, then pull in your abdomen. A tight core helps to stabilize your lower body during the exercise.
- Lift one leg 2 inches from the floor and count to five, then lower the leg. Repeat this step with the other leg.
- Point your toes and stretch both legs as much as you can comfortably do so.
- Rotate your ankles counterclockwise for 2 seconds. Change direction and rotate your ankles clockwise for 2 more seconds.
- Close your eyes and relax for 5 minutes, then sit slowly sit up.
As blood circulates through your legs, your joints and muscles should feel warm and relaxed.
If you experience pain at any given time during the exercise, stop and contact an orthopedic specialist or surgeon like one from Omaha Orthopedic Clinic & Sports Medicine PC for care.