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Don’t Let the Cold Bring You Down This Winter

December 20, 2022

Actionable steps to avoid or limit joint pain caused by cold and icy weather

Have you noticed an increase in joint pain this winter? You’re not alone. It turns out those frigid Midwest winters can lead to an increase in joint pain flare-ups, not only for those who already suffer from arthritis or joint pain, but also for those with healthy joints as well.

How can you prevent the joint-pain-winter-blues and continue a healthy, comfortable lifestyle? With a staff of experts in the most innovative techniques that lead to better outcomes and faster recovery times, the team at Mississippi Valley Surgery Center, located in Davenport, is here with some helpful tips.

When temps fall, you don’t have to fall with them.

If you decide to venture to the great outdoors this season, make sure you take some extra precautions. Your joints will thank you!

Snow, ice and wind can bring countless opportunities for slips, trips and falls throughout the season that can cause long-lasting joint issues. While many winter falls result in only minor injuries, others aren’t so lucky. To help you stay safe this season, here are five tips to prevent slips and trips this season:

  1. Wear high-traction shoes.

Rubber soles, boots and shoes with grip and texture can help keep you upright on icy surfaces.

  1. Take it slow.

Give yourself plenty of time to get where you need to go. When you speed up, you have a higher chance of falling down.

  1. Adjust your stride.

Utilizing smaller, shorter steps or even shuffling can help you glide across the slippery surface rather than slipping and sliding on every step. If possible, look for snow, grass or dirt rather than slippery walkways.

  1. Use support.

There’s no shame in utilizing nearby handrails or vehicles for support when walking through a potentially slick area. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

  1. Keep your hands free.

Keep your hands out of your pockets and stay off your phone to give yourself a better chance to grab on to something if you do start slipping.

Stay active and moving

While another weekend spent cozying up and binge-watching your favorite television series sounds better than working out, staying active is an important part of protecting your joints. By building muscle, joint function and mobility can improve, reducing overall joint pressure. Even low-impact activities like walking, swimming and cycling can be key to boosting blood flow and avoiding joint pain and stiffness.

Exercising outdoors can become challenging in the winter season, but there are dozens of great alternatives to keep your joints moving and the blood pumping this season. For instance, you can try an indoor track or even some mall walking to get out and about. When you do decide to get moving, here are a few more tips:

  • Stretch or warm up.
    While stretching is an important step in helping joint pain all year long, it’s especially important when temperatures are low. By implementing stretching into your daily routine, your joints will not be as impacted by the colder temperatures, therefore causing you less pain.
  • Dress in layers for comfort and movement.

It may be troublesome to throw on a coat, hat, boots and gloves every time you leave the house, but dressing in layers does help keep your joints protected. Not only do these layers keep your joints warm and less stiff, but dressing in layers allows you to easily adjust to any changes in temperature.

  • Apply heat afterwards.

When joint pain strikes, use heat to counteract the cold. Take a warm bath or utilize a heating pad to relieve joint pain, improve mobility and relax your muscles.

  • Stay hydrated.

It may seem backwards, but staying hydrated throughout winter is just as – if not more – crucial than in summer. Since dry air makes people feel dehydrated, tired and achy, it’s important to continue drinking water to support your body’s needs and keep your muscles working properly.

What should you do if you fall?

If you do take a nasty fall this winter, there are ways you can relieve the pain. For the first 24 hours after a fall, ice the injured area for 15-20 minutes at a time, multiple times throughout the day to decrease bruising and swelling. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) can also be used to decrease pain.

If pain continues, it may be time to seek professional help. For years, Orthopaedic Specialists, located in Davenport, has served as an innovator in orthopaedic care. With an urgent care clinic available with no appointment necessary, the center treats injuries to the wrist, hand or shoulder, possible broken bones, sprained knees, swollen joints and more.

In some cases, surgery may be deemed necessary to address the issue. For many in the Quad Cities, an outpatient surgery center like Mississippi Valley Surgery Center can be the right fit. As the state’s first AAAHC Advanced Orthopaedic Certified surgery center, MVSC offers minimally invasive/rapid recovery, same-day and 23-hour total joint replacements – which are alternatives to large, open procedures.

As the area’s only outpatient surgery center performing total shoulder, hip, knee and ankle replacements, MVSC’s fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeons also perform more 800 total joint replacements each year. With a personalized and convenient experience for patients and family members alike, MVSC provides predictable scheduling and same-day discharge, allowing patients to recover comfortably at home.

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