Winter’s WOES

The U.S. Arthritis Foundation states that while cold weather doesn’t cause arthritis, it does make pain feel more intense. Low temperatures can increase pain sensitivity, slow blood circulation, and cause muscle spasms. Hyaline cartilage covers our joints in general, providing a smooth surface for joint motion and acting as a cushion between bones. In contrast, in people suffering from osteoarthritis (OA), this cartilage becomes damaged, resulting in pain and swelling near the joint. In the late stages of OA, the cartilage is completely destroyed, and bone rubs against bone at the joint. According to research, osteoarthritis affects about 20–25% of adults, with men being more affected than women in the under-50 age group, while women are more likely to have it in the over-50 age group. OA can affect any joint, but it is most common in the knees, hips, lower back, and neck, as well as the small finger joints and the bases of the thumb and big toe.

Many patients complain of joint pain and stiffness, particularly in the winter, making daily activities such as stair climbing, walking, holding something, or doing kitchen work difficult. Pain during activity is caused by joint mobilization, and pain decreases during rest. Early morning stiffness and pain are common among people with OA. Pain in the knee when standing up after sitting for an extended period of time with a bent knee is a common complaint. In the early stages, the patient does not complain of continuous or overnight pain, but the intensity of the pain varies and is triggered by cold, trauma, and over activity. Progressive restriction in the movement of affected joints can be observed, which may lead to joint contracture and an insufficient blood supply, resulting in joint deformities. Further, mild swelling around the joint, as well as cracking, scraping, and crepitating sounds, can be heard. Heat remedies have shown significant improvement not only in pain management, but also in faster recovery, because the joints show an increase in stiffness at low temperatures and a decrease in stiffness at high temperatures.

Physical therapy management for OA
Treatment is determined by the severity of the condition. Physical therapy, medical management, or surgical correction or replacement are all options for treatment. If the OA is in its early stages, the patient should be aware of activities that aggravate the pain and activities that reduce the pain, as well as whether the pain is improving or not by using braces, splints, or walking aids. Physiotherapy interventions focus on pain management, restoring range of motion, and increasing muscular strength, all of which contribute to a faster recovery. Obesity management is very important and can be done through exercise programs (warm-ups, jogging, progressive strength training, aerobics, cool-downs, and stretching) and a healthy diet. In the case of OA, manual therapy has resulted in significant improvement. Exercise, agility training, and manual therapy together significantly minimize the joint’s pain and improve functionality.

Home remedies for osteoarthritis symptoms this winter
1. Perform periodic and correct exercises as prescribed by a physical therapist.
2. Heat or thermal therapy (using a hot bag, sun exposure, staying warm, or using a hot water bath tub).
3. Should prioritize weight loss and BMI maintenance through exercise and diet.
4. Should begin using splints or assistive devices, such as canes, walkers, knee caps, and knee braces if necessary or recommended by a specialist.
5. Should not sit in a kneeling position for a long period of time.
6. Massage oil, pain reliever gel, or ointment should be applied to the affected joint.
7. Maintain joint range and flexibility through movement and stretching.
8. If the joint pain is severe, you should rest.
9. Avoid high-intensity exercises that aggravate pain, such as running, jumping, heavy weight lifting, and others.
10. Don’t let your shoes aggravate your OA knee. Use cushioned insoles in your shoes to reduce stress on your knees. Stop wearing high-heeled shoes.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis, which is chronic and progressive in nature, affecting both young and old people worldwide. This causes cartilage and bone degeneration in the joints, resulting in pain, stiffness, tenderness, decreased range of motion and flexibility, and swelling. Osteoarthritis is divided into two types based on the cause: primary and secondary. Primary osteoarthritis is more common and can be caused by genetic, mechanical, or idiopathic factors. Secondary osteoarthritis, on the other hand, is caused by pre-existing pathological conditions and injury that affect the joint.

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