Nauman Akhtar, MD, is board certified in orthopaedic surgery. He has a special interest in arthritis and joint replacement and serves as Medical Director of the Inova Loudoun Hospital Joint Replacement Program.
If your knees act up in winter weather or your achy hip predicts rainstorms, it’s not a figment of your imagination. Changes in temperature and barometric pressure can indeed affect the way your joints function and feel.
In people with arthritis or injured joints, pain and stiffness along with cold weather or changes in barometric pressure are common. People who have had joint replacements often expect those symptoms to disappear – and can be surprised when they don’t. Replacement joints are not usually painful when the temperature drops, but stiffness and increased sensitivity are not uncommon.
Though not ideal, these sensations are normal. With some simple steps, you can keep your joints moving smoothly – without having to book a tropical vacation. (Though that’s not a bad idea either!)
- Keep moving. It’s tempting to rest when your hips or knees are acting up, but inactivity can make pain and stiffness worse. Try not to sit for long periods. Walking, stretching and other gentle activities will help ease discomfort.
- Focus on nutrition. A healthy diet supports joint health. Omega-3 fatty acids, found naturally in fish, seeds and nuts and also available in supplement form, can reduce inflammation in the joints. And though the evidence is mixed, some people with arthritis pain report success from taking glucosamine and chondroitin supplements.
- Layer up. Warm clothing helps to keep joints limber in winter weather. A compression sleeve around joints such as knees and ankles can also relieve achiness.
- Get even colder. Heating pads feel good on stiff joints, but they aren’t always the best choice. If a joint is swollen from injury or arthritis, cold compresses are more effective for reducing inflammation
Aching Joints: Should You See a Specialist?
Winter or summer, you shouldn’t have to live with joint pain. If discomfort and stiffness are affecting your daily life or preventing you from engaging in the activities you love, we can help.
We treat joint pain in a variety of ways, starting with conservative options such as anti-inflammatory medicines, injections, braces or physical therapy. If those options aren’t cutting it, joint replacement surgeries can provide relief.
In the past, joint replacement was only recommended for people fairly late in life. Nowadays we’re more concerned with your activity level than your age. If joint pain is interfering with activities of daily living, replacements can help get you up and moving.
As the technology and techniques have improved, joint replacements have become safer and less invasive, and recovery times have gotten shorter. At Inova Loudoun Hospital, we use all the latest and greatest surgical advancements, including robotic technology and computer-navigated joint replacements.
Learn more about the experts and procedures available at the Inova Loudoun Hospital Joint Replacement Program.