How do I deal with stiff joints in the winter time?

 

cold weather runEver wonder why some people’s joint pains and aches get worse in the cold weather?

Well you’re not alone.  Lots of people wonder about those nagging pains, and of course, about the scientific reasons behind Granny’s “trick knee” that seems to be able to predict rainstorms.  They also wonder how to fix them, or to at least make them better.

Both AIM Acupuncturist and Traditional Chinese Medicine experts Erin Alberda and Debbie Yu, and their associate, Dr. Brooke Azie-Rentz, attempt to solve this mystery in today’s post.

From Dr. Brooke Azie-Rentz, ND: 
Joint Pain, kneeJoints are closed cavities that work kind of like a balloon. When the pressure goes up due to bad weather patterns, it makes the fluid in that knee take up more space and cause pain. Hence why some people have a “trick knee” and can predict rainstorms! Ways to prevent this would be to make sure there are no sharp edges for the “balloon” to get hung up on. Things like fish oils and glucosamine can help smooth out rough areas and keep inflammation down. In addition, certain foods can be inflammatory like dairy, wheat/gluten and sugar. But some foods known as the Nightshade Family, have an affinity for joints and are known to potentiate pain. Members of this family include potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant and tobacco (so steer clear of the infamous tomacco plant!). In conclusion, Imageeliminate the nightshade family and do things to promote healing and decrease inflammation and you should be good to go. If not, there are lots of herbs/supplements that can help if these easy fixes don’t.

 

TCM Perspective: 

When the weather turns cold, our bodies feel the impact. Areas of decreased circulation and chronic inflammation are especially affected as cold temperatures further constrict blood vessels and restrict blood flow. The most common areas to feel the stiffness resulting from poor blood flow are joints and past injuries. Feeling a little stiff in cold weather is normal, but if stiffness is accompanied by ache and pain it is a sign that one needs to evaluate and optimize their circulation. In cases of injury this means getting some treatment on an old injury to break up scar tissue and relieving muscle adhesions and tension around the area in order to reignite the healing process with fresh blood.

ImageThere are many great food choices that can also warm our bodies and increase blood circulation. They happen to include many of the foods in season right now. Winter squash, sweet potato and yams are great warming foods! They also incorporate wonderfully into a soup that can help warm us to the core on cold days. Adding spices to our foods, such as ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, paprika, chili, and hot peppers also help heat us up from the inside out. Cinnamon, in particular, is used medicinally in Chinese and Western medicine to improve circulation and warm the body. Try it in tea form throughout the day to keep your blood moving and stoke your internal fire!

 

For other great health tips and responses to patient questions, check us out on facebook. If you would like to talk more about an individual health concern, give us a call and we can set you up!

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About alpine integrated medicine

AIM is based on the idea that when we martial our collective expertise, we can achieve great health outcomes for our patients. A truly integrated clinic, AIM's practitioners work together to provide an experience tailored to each individual. We believe in the power of natural healing, combined with the most current medical science available.
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