Seasonal joint pain is something that many people have to deal with eventually. Whether you have an old joint injury or your joints have simply become more sensitive over the years, changes in the weather often cause painful swelling and tenderness.
Fortunately, once you understand why your joints hurt with weather changes, you can conquer your pain with smart counter-action. The key is to approach your seasonal joint pain with a practical answer to each weather condition.
We can help you to manage your joint pain at Cawley Physical Therapy & Rehab. We provide preventative physical therapy in NEPA and know all the exercises that can help to reduce your discomfort. We can also provide all the proper advice on what to do at home.
Here are seven techniques to prevent seasonal joint pain.
1. Know when Storms Are Coming
The first step is to remain aware of the weather. Many people with seasonal joint pain also have pain that relates to cold snaps and regional storms. So know what’s coming. By paying attention to the weather and your joints, you will learn and even become able to prevent the pain. Keep track of how your joints feel during certain weather and temperatures.
Then, when those weather patterns or temperatures are on the way, protect your joints from either swelling or cold before the weather gets underway. The easiest way to do this is to install a weather app on your phone, preferably a home-page widget that shows the weather and temperature live at all times. From there, all you have to do is occasionally glance at the national Doppler map to know when bad weather is on the way.
2. Take Your Seasonal Allergy Medication
Believe it or not, seasonal allergies can also cause joint pain. This is because allergic reactions often include both inflammation and fatigue. Any additional inflammation in the body due to an allergic reaction can cause increased pain and discomfort of swollen joints. Fatigue is almost as risky for joint pain because many people experience joint pain when they cannot hold their skeletons in perfect alignment comfortably.
For this reason, one smart way to preempt seasonal joint pain is to stay on your antihistamines. Remember to take allergy medicine during the seasons when you experience the most allergies. This will help keep your body’s inflammation down and take better care of your joints.
3. Apply Ice when Your Joints Swell
Know the situations in which your joints swell and become painful. Know if your joints swell in the rain, the heat, or the winter, and then be ready. When your joints are at risk of swelling, begin treating lightly with ice wrapped in a towel. This is the “I” in the classic RICE formula for treating injuries and joint discomfort.
Ice and compression are the best ways to reduce swelling. This can also reduce your seasonal joint pain. By addressing a swelling joint situation early, you can keep your pain to a minimum during risky weather. Don’t be afraid to visit your physical therapist in NEPA if things get really bad.
4. Wear a Compression Brace as Needed
From there, it also makes sense to keep your favorite compression brace on hand. A compression brace provides extra support, padding, and helps to keep down seasonal swelling joints. Even easier to handle than ice, when you feel joint swelling on the wind, simply put on your brace and let it keep your joint at a comfortable, unswollen size.
Having the right knee brace, ankle brace, or elbow brace can make a big difference when weather that normally causes joint pain blows through. Simply enjoy your day with the brace on and significantly reduce symptoms. You can also let the brace remind you to apply ice regularly.
5. Apply Heat When You Feel Aches and Soreness
When your joints start to ache or feel sore, apply heat instead of cold. Cold reduces swelling, but heat softens and relaxes the soft tissue around your joint. A hot pad, hot water bottle, heat pack, or even a microwaved wet towel can make a big difference in easing joint pain caused by tension. Whether your muscles have tensed, you slept wrong, or a sudden cold snap has you in pain, apply heat to your joints to ease that pain and tension. Aches and soreness can be banished with direct warm heat wrapped in a towel.
6. Keep Your Joints Warm in the Cold
The same principle naturally applies when the weather turns cold each year. In the winter and during cold snaps, act preemptively, and keep your joints warm. Consider turning up the heat in your home. Wear warm clothing and consider a soft brace to provide extra warmth and support for your most typically painful joints.
Soak your aching joints in hot water or by taking a hot bath. You can also warm up heat packs and hot water bottles for good measure. When the weather goes cold, keeping yourself and especially your joints warm can prevent the kind of seasonal pain that you may have come to expect.
7. Stay Limber and Exercise Regularly
Finally, stay active. This may seem counterintuitive, but using your joints every day can help them stay strong and limber. Take walks, do stretches, and schedule some light exercise for each day. For specific joint pain, be sure to warm up and stretch out the joint to your comfortable limits.
A little warm-up exercise will keep your muscles flexible and responsive. Stretching will help your tendons and muscles to become more flexible within your range of motion. And regular exercise can help to build supporting muscles around a weakened joint. Staying limber and exercising regularly will overall decrease your experience of joint pain, seasonal, and otherwise.
Professional Physical Therapy in Northeast PA
Are you suffering from joint pain? Looking for help staying on your feet when the weather changes? Let Cawley Physical Therapy & Rehab be there for you. We can recommend all kinds of exercises for you to complete on your own, such as 5 easy exercises to improve foot and ankle movement. Or, make an appointment to come in and see us, and we can work directly with you on improving your joint pain.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment.