Bone Care During Winter

By Kaniza Garari

As the mercury dips, many experience bone and joint pains, and the complaints only grow larger as winter approaches. However, though there is no scientific evidence that relates weather to body aches, it is understood that during cold and dry weather, muscles and joints stiffen, causing pain. Now, with winter fast approaching, it is imperative that we take care of our bones. Dr Sunil Dachepalli, senior orthopedic and joint replacement surgeon at Yashoda Hospitals, delves deeper into this…

Q What is the reason for pain in the bones? It is said that if there is continuous, severe pain in the joints or in the ankle and hip region, a specialist must be consulted. Why?
Increasing pain in the joints and bones usually denotes that you might be suffering from arthritis, mainly, inflammatory arthritis. If it affects several joints, and if you have early morning stiffness of the fingers and pain in ankles, it’s time to consult a specialist. You might have to undergo some x-rays and blood tests to rule out the inflammatory arthritis.

Q Is pain in the bones because of less circulation of the blood or due to deficiency?
As we know, warmth improves circulation and keeps all the tissues well nourished. Cold weather can lead to a decrease in blood circulation, if we are not physically active enough, and this causes increase in pain. Another thing that is attributed to increasing pain is Vitamin D deficiency. One of the causes for the deficiency could be the lack of enough sunlight we are exposed to.

Q What kind of food must people eat to take care of their bone health during winter?
Bone health is a balance between many factors, the key players being Calcium and Vitamin D. To keep bones healthy, we need to concentrate on calcium rich products and consume Vitamin D rich foods. The ideal source of Vitamin D is sunlight, as we get only a minimal amount from food. Also, concentrating on healthy food and avoiding fatty food will help lose excess weight, thereby decreasing the load on the affected joints, ultimately reducing pain.

If required, Vitamin D supplements should be considered and preferably, followed only after checking the values, as this is a fat-soluble Vitamin and an excess of it can pile up in your body causing toxicity. Exercise indoors rather than outdoors to protect your body from the harsh cold weather.

Q If a person has suffered fractures, or has undergone knee, ankle or hip surgeries during winter, what are the precautions they must take?
Most of us know that any injury in winter leads to more pain. The reason, as explained before, is due to the stiffness and dryness of the tissues and bones. If we suffer a fracture or undergo operations in winters, we need to make sure that our body is kept warm with layers of clothing, including gloves and socks, if required. Hydration levels need to be improved as even mild dehydration may make you sensitive to pain. Although there is not much evidence on Glucosamine-Chondroitin supplementation, I found many patients experiencing relief when they took them. So, if you can spare a bit of extra cash for yourself, try them out. If it works, you can continue these supplements. We can also use warm water for comfort —simple things like dipping your ankles in a bucket full of warm water, or soaking yourself in a bath tub full of warm water can help in speeding up the rehabilitation.

Fish oil, which is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, has beneficial effects as it reduces the level of inflammation. Sometimes, simple pain killers like a paracetamol can be considered. Anything higher than that should preferably be prescribed by a specialist rather than buying them over the counter. I am sure most of us like winter and we can keep our bodies relaxed with occasional warm oil massages that soothe the tissues, bones and joints. Lastly, make sure you have good footwear to protect your feet from the harsh weather. Also, make sure that you don’t trip or slip.

Source: Deccan Chronicle | not affiliated with Aetrex Worldwide