As we get older, we all experience minor aches and brief moments of pain in our joints while doing everyday activities. These minor nuisances generally disappear shortly after presenting themselves. But for seniors these discomforts may not go away so easily. Chronic pain can be caused by a previous severe injury, an illness or just time itself in older populations and cold weather can make these matters worse.
Dr. Laura Reese, an orthopedic surgeon with Ashland Orthopedic Associates in Kentucky, told U.S. News that a change in barometric pressure may be the culprit causing weather-related pain. When temperatures drop or barometric pressures change quickly, it could affect the synovial fluid in joints. This is the fluid that keeps joints lubricated and keeps cartilage intact.
For seniors in assisted living communities experiencing achy bones, winter can be a particularly discomforting time. However, there are few things they can do to combat this problem.
Weather-related joint pain can be reduced with simple steps
Bundle up and keep warm
Seniors should do all they can to stay warm during this period of the year. Keeping the the body and joints warm can reduce pain and make seniors feel much more comfortable. Doing things like wearing extra layers, keeping rooms warm and sleeping under an electric blanket can be helpful. Heat wraps or pads can be applied directly to problem joints to reduce swelling. However, wraps should be removed after about 20 minutes. Direct heat can relax the muscles and sooth some of the pain away. Soaking in a warm bath or taking a hot shower can also help. A delicious solution can come from drinking a fresh cup of coffee or hot chocolate.
Anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen and prescription arthritic medications are recommended during this time of year. Also, joint flexors and athletic straps worn during the day or when sleeping can reduce swelling.
Exercising indoors in the winter is a great way to keep joints lubricated,minimize pain and increase flexibility. Seniors are encouraged to stay active in as many ways as possible. Activities like group fitness classes, riding a stationary bike or even walking around the living grounds and visiting with other residents can all lessen inflammation and increase overall health. Stretching is also important both before and after exercising and periodically when resting, as it too can reduce swelling and prevent stiffness.
Being dehydrated can make individuals more susceptible to pain which makes it easier for the weather to be an irritant. A lack of fluids also prevents those trying to exercise from working at their full potential, creating room for stiffness later on.
Massage the affected area
Massages relieve muscle tension around the bones that cause pain and also increase circulation, which can be very helpful for people suffering from troublesome joints and aches. Massage sessions can be very relaxing and relieve stress in addition to boosting flexibility and mitigating discomfort. If there is no massage professional onsite seniors can gently massage their troublesome muscles and joints themselves to alleviate stiffness and pain.
Winter can sometimes make us feel like we're trapped inside and at the mercy of the harsh elements. But there are a number of efficient ways seniors can maintain their health and live comfortably throughout the season.