Community Blog

Seven Suggestions for Seniors with Joint Pain

By Debbie Humphrey

We recently experienced a bout of cooler temps thanks to cold weather fronts from the north impacting our warm, sunny climate. There are times when I think I could be a meteorologist, because the pain in my knee alerts me to changes in the weather without my ever tuning into BayNews9 or the Weather channel, to get the latest forecasts.

The reason many older adults and seniors with joint pain can predict weather changes, lies within the joints themselves. Vertebrae, ankles, knees, hips, elbows, shoulders, fingers and hands are the primary joints that allow our bodies and extremities to move more fluidly with various ranges of motion.

Joints consist of tissues and fluids, and they are supported by ligaments and tendons. When joints become compromised due to a sedentary lifestyle, injury, repetitive motion, and gravity, arthritis can set-in, limiting the joint’s ability to move due to stiffness and pain.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, “If you combine results of the various studies, the general consensus is that cold, wet weather is the worst for inciting arthritis pain.”

Terence Starz, MD, rheumatologist at University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Pittsburgh, believes inactivity is a reason for increased joint pain. “We know that physical activity relieves arthritis pain, and when the weather is unpleasant, people tend to hole-up inside. That inactivity can lead to more pain,” Dr. Starz concluded.

However, other scientists believe in the barometric pressure factor. When barometric pressure, or the weight of the air, changes due to cold and warm weather fronts, there is expansion and contraction of tendons, impacting synovial tissues and fluids in joints, as well as surrounding muscles, bones and scar tissue, that contribute to arthritis and pain. Additionally, colder temperatures can thicken the joint fluids making them feel more stiff and sensitive to discomfort with movement.

If you experience joint pain in colder weather, you should consult with your doctor, and consider applying some of the following suggestions to minimize the impact of colder weather and improve levels of discomfort:

*Dress for Warmth. When the temperatures take a dive, wear warmer clothes in layers, if necessary, taking special care to keep affected joints more protected from the cold.

*Stay Hydrated. Living in the Sunshine State, it may seem like a no-brainer to drink more water for hydration. However, seniors don’t always drink enough fluids, especially water, which can cause an increase in joint pain and discomfort.

*Lose Weight. It is important to get moving! Excess weight puts extra pressure on your heart and your joints. By participating in activities like walking, swimming, kayaking, water aerobics, anything that gets your body and joints moving will promote weight loss, decrease arthritic pain and improve your overall health. When the weather is not conducive to outdoor activities, jog-in-place while watching television or listening to music; consider investing in a treadmill or other low-impact device, or join a gym to keep moving indoors!

*Vitamin “D-ficiency”. Vitamin D is plentiful in Florida considering our climate. However, if you are not able to get out in the sunshine to absorb this important vitamin, you may have a deficiency that can perpetuate joint pain and the likelihood of developing osteoporosis.

*Fish Oil Benefits. “Omega-3 fatty acids do have some benefit because they seem to reduce the level of inflammation,” says rheumatologist Bonita S. Libman, MD, professor of medicine and division chief of rheumatology and clinical immunology at the University of Vermont College of Medicine in Burlington. The Arthritis Foundation recommends up to 2.6 grams of fish oil capsules twice a day. It’s important to notify your doctor if you do try omega-3s, as “they can increase the risk for bruising or bleeding.”

*Over-The-Counter NSAIDS or Acetaminophen. Even if you don’t like taking medications, OTC’s can provide an element of relief from joint pain and discomfort.

*Alternative Options. Chiropractic, massage and acupuncture are other ways arthritis/joint pain sufferers utilize for alleviation of muscle and joint pain and discomfort; as well as a means of feeling and healing better overall.

If you know a senior with joint pain, especially during colder weather, please give me a call. I am happy to offer a FREE in-home consultation to discuss specific needs and ways our caregivers can help.

Home Helpers® proudly serves male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson and surrounding areas. Contact me today to learn more about the many services offered through Home Helpers® We are Making Life Easier℠ 727.972.2539

Source: Arthritis Foundation