Winter is here! How to keep your bones and joints healthy this winter

Updated: November 15, 2019 2:59:59 PM

The change in the seasons brings about change in the circadian rhythm of the body which is linked to the amount of sunlight exposure our body gets.

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By Dr Vishwadeep Sharma

As winter sets in, some of us are likely to suffer from common aches and pains, especially low back pain and joint pains. In the spectrum of the age group from 10 years to elderly people, each age group comes across specific problems. The elderly people are more prone to have stiffness in the large joints of the lower limb and sometimes of the fingers of the hand. Young active people can have early morning low back pain.

Is the cold bad for bones?

The change in the seasons brings about change in the circadian rhythm of the body which is linked to the amount of sunlight exposure our body gets. It’s common for the muscles around the joint to stiffen up in the colder weather which in turn can increase the chances of having acute spasm of the Back.

With the decrease in the sunlight exposure the amount of Vitamin D required by the body may decrease causing added chances for increase in acute Low Back Pain and joint pains.

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Prevention is better than cure, they say. Ensuring good sunlight exposure decreases our chances of lower levels of Vitamin D. But people staying in city’s with higher levels of pollution can’t get good sunlight exposure due to Ultraviolet B radiation in the sunlight gets filtered out due to suspended particles.

Remember, the standard recommendations for Vitamin D supplements are ideally after a blood test. The best thing to do would be to consult your orthopaedician for expert opinion.

How can I make my bones stronger naturally? Exercise to increase bone density!

Here are some easy-to-do tips to keep your bones and joints stronger naturally:

Exercise works best to maintain good bone health because it maintains your bone density and preventive against osteoporosis.

The advantage of exercise during peak winters is that the soreness or stiffness of the joints is in check due to adequate blood supply reaching them which counters the effects of vasoconstriction.

Note that vasoconstriction happens on exposure to cold where the body shunts the blood supply away from the peripheral body parts like upper limbs and lower limbs and directs it to the abdominal viscera and essential organs like the heart, lungs and the brain.

Exercise works even better for the elderly population as their joints get better coordination with the brain and this prevents falls.

Can I self medicate myself with Vitamin D or consult an orthopaedician?

Vitamin D is not just a vitamin but works like a hormone and is essentially needed by each and every cell in the body. Maintaining adequate blood levels of the vitamin helps body cope up with all the stress. But if you have never been tested for it before it is wise to first undergo a test and be adequate supplemented under a consultation rather than a random dose now and then.

Should I use counter calcium tablets for calcium supplementation?

Calcium is best supplemented with calcium rich foods namely milk, milk products, green leafy vegetables. But if you are taking high doses of vitamin D, then calcium should always be added to the regime. A lot has been written on calcium and Vitamin D intake but the widely accepted fact is that both Vitamin D and Calcium helps in maintaining adequate bone and muscle health.

Depression and Low Back Pain

It is a well accepted fact that the winter season has higher reporting of Depression and its association with back pain is common. The awareness among the general population is almost nil. It’s important to be aware of this condition considering the impact it takes on the quality of life and less work hours.

Hydration

Keeping one self hydrated with adequate amount of fluids in any form helps to remove the toxins. Good hydration is essential for the skin in dry weather like the winters.

Vitamin C

Eating Citrous fruits like oranges, Having Amla in any form helps the body to build adequate stores for good bone, joint and skin health.

Avoid Excessive Drinking and smoking

Excessive alcohol use is associated vasodilatation and cause hypothermia in extreme cold environment. Its excessive use is associated with osteoporosis and neuropathies leading to falls and fractures.

Smoking

Smoking should be avoided in any form. It has been proved with no doubt that it is associated with chronic lung conditions and poor bone health.

(Dr Vishwadeep Sharma is Senior consultant, Arthroscopy & Sports injuries, Dept of Orthopaedics at Fortis Flt. Lt. Rajan Dhall Hospital. Views expressed are the author’s own.)

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