Storm Eunice and Storm Dudley may have blown themselves out but winter’s not done with us just yet. As lovely as it is to see the yellow of the daffodils just starting to appear, the final few weeks of winter and early spring can bring freezing temperatures, wet weather and storms. For patients with chronic conditions like arthritis, this can be a challenge.
Stay fit and well this winter
If you are one of them or if you have any kind of orthopaedic problem that causes pain or loss of mobility, winter can lead to a worsening of your symptoms as well as an increased risk of trips and falls. All of us need to take a little extra care of our health over the winter months but this is particularly important if you have an existing condition or injury. Here are some things you can do to help yourself stay fit and well this winter…
- Wear the right clothes: if you get very chilled when you go outside this can exacerbate pain and disability and may increase the risk of a fall. Several thin layers provide the best insulation against the cold and also wearing a hat and warm socks can help to keep you warm. Sturdy shoes or boots with a good grip are essential particularly in wet or icy weather.
- Take extra care: leave plenty of time to get to appointments so you are not tempted to rush, and stick to pavements and paths that have been gritted wherever possible. Avoid dimly lit areas as this can increase the possibility of slipping on wet leaves or ice.
- Take painkilling medication regularly: if you need painkillers, take them regularly to keep on top of pain. Sometimes a mix of anti-inflammatories and painkillers provides the optimum pain relief but talk to your doctor or orthopaedic surgeon for specialist advice that is tailored for you. Be sure to take the correct dosage and if it is not providing sufficient pain relief, discuss this with your doctor who may be able to prescribe a higher dosage.
- Eat warm nourishing food: this will not only help you to stay warmer and maintain good levels of immunity against winter colds and flu but it may also provide longer term benefits. Studies show a link between good nutrition and making a good recovery from surgery. It’s important to keep well hydrated too. While it’s easier to tell if you are becoming dehydrated during warm weather, it’s also possible to dehydrate during the colder months and this can lead to worsening stiffness in the joints.
- Move your body: most of us are more sedentary during the winter months than we are the rest of the year. After all, it’s not always very tempting to leave the sofa, particularly if it is wet and cold outside. However, a lack of exercise can increase pain and stiffness in damaged joints so it’s important to keep mobile, even if you confine yourself to indoor exercise such as yoga or swimming. Exercising helps to lubricate the joints and build muscle strength to prevent falls. If you can get outside in the fresh air, it will be good for your mental health as well as your physical health.
- Take advice from your orthopaedic surgeon: while we can provide helpful general information on keeping well over winter, your orthopaedic surgeon knows you and your condition best of all and is the best person to advise you. Right now, of course, we are still dealing with the impact of Covid and your surgeon will be able to provide specific information on the current guidelines, particularly if you are going into hospital for diagnostic testing or treatment.
As orthopaedic surgeons, we do whatever we can to support our patients and help them get back to doing the things they love. There are also some things that you can do to keep yourself fit and well even while you are waiting for treatment. If you’d like advice on any aspect of your care, contact us and we would be happy to help.
Talk to an orthopaedic consultant | Cambridge
Please be reassured that despite the ongoing UK Covid-19 pandemic, orthopaedic treatments are now again being routinely offered to patients. Having the vaccine does not mean that your treatment won’t go ahead. However, in some circumstances, such as for planned surgery, it is advisable to delay it by a couple of weeks to ensure your body responds in the optimum way to the vaccine. If in doubt, please talk to your orthopaedic consultant or contact us for more guidance to help get your orthopaedic treatment back on track.
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