Golden autumn is a great time to enjoy the last warm days. But, unfortunately, the transition from summer heat to autumn cold and rain is not always gradual. And if the weather conditions change very sharply, then in terms of well-being for many people this does not go unnoticed.
In autumn, many diseases are exacerbated: from asthma and peptic ulcer to rheumatism. Seasonal pain affects people of all ages and health conditions. But most often in the fall they complain of pain in the joints. Why is this happening and how to explain seasonal ailments?
Autumn and joint pain: what is the relationship
Many people can predict the weather, such as rain, better than most weather services. For some, the harbinger of worsening weather is pain in the elbow or knee, for others, the "twisting" of the wrist, leg bones or knuckles. Pain manifests itself differently in different people.
The nature of autumn pain in the joints was studied by Hippocrates. But neither in ancient times nor today is it known for certain why the harbingers of worsening weather are so painful for a person. Many scientists even refuse to recognize a direct link between the change of seasons and the exacerbation of sores. However, most patients report a deterioration in their health in the fall. Pain can occur in any joint, but is most common in the knees, hips, or ankles. That is, just those parts of the musculoskeletal system, which account for the greatest load.
If discomfort does occur, it is usually reminiscent of old injuries or chronic illnesses.
According to one theory, pain in the joints and tissues around them can be caused by sudden changes in atmospheric pressure (which, in fact, occurs in autumn). The researchers suggest that changes in barometric pressure may trigger inflammatory responses in the joints. Because of them, blood circulation in this area is disturbed, the sensitivity of nerve endings increases. The result is pain, sometimes severe.
The second possible reason why joints hurt in autumn is cold. Rheumatic pains are aggravated after each freezing. Conversely, heat and warmth bring relief and eliminate symptoms. The fact is that when we get cold, the body first of all “warms up” the vital organs - the heart and lungs, so the most intense blood flows are directed to these organs, and the joints have to wait. Until blood flow to the bones resumes, the soft tissues surrounding the joint shrink under the influence of cold. We are talking about muscles, ligaments and joint capsules. As a result of such changes, there is a feeling of stiffness and friction in the joints. But what is important, the matter is not limited to only unpleasant sensations. In the cold, more than ever, the risk of damage to the articular cartilage increases. Conversely, maintaining tissues and muscles at an optimal temperature prevents compression and wear of the joint. In addition, the lack of sufficient sun leads to weakening of the bones. In autumn and winter, the synthesis of vitamin D worsens, which is responsible for the strength and mineralization of bone tissue.
Seasonal Allergies and Knee Pain
Many people don't even know, but sometimes pain affecting the joints is one of the manifestations of allergies, which is also tends to escalate in autumn. Food allergy triggers, and with it pain in the knees or elbows, are foods that contain the following components:
- sugar (activate the production in the body of cytokines that contribute to inflammatory processes);
- saturated fats (cause inflammation in fatty tissues);
- trans fats (provoke systemic inflammation in the body);
- omega-6 fatty acids (their excess leads to the progression of arthritis);
- refined carbohydrates (activate the production of substances that increase inflammation, including in the joints);
- alcohol (alcohol abuse also increases various kinds of inflammation).
In the fall, people suffering from arthritis or seasonal joint pain should better refrain from eating products containing these components. It is possible that the cause of malaise may be a food factor.
How to alleviate and prevent autumn joint pain
You don't have to have rheumatism or arthritis to respond to weather changes with joint pain. Many anticipate cold snaps and rains with characteristic aching and aching pains in the knees or elbows. Often it is impossible to completely get rid of this type of weather sensitivity, but there are some tricks that will help make you feel better.
Take care of the right clothes. This is the first and main rule. In most cases, it is the clothing that is inappropriate for the weather that leads to hypothermia and, as a result, to pain in the joints. Nowadays, it is easy to pick up fashionable and at the same time very warm clothes. Even the most fastidious of us, if desired, can always find something warm and stylish. There is no need to choose between beautiful or warm clothes.
If you have a long trip or a long walk in cool weather, be sure to take a thermos of hot tea with you. The drink will quickly warm the whole body, including the joints.
Enrich your autumn diet with substances useful for strengthening cartilage and bones. For example, collagen hydrochloride and glucosamine promote joint regeneration, improve their condition, strengthen tendons and ligaments. The most readily available source of collagen is all foods that contain gelatin, including jellied meats and jelly beans. Glucosamine is present in beef, poultry, red fish and seafood, and some cheeses. Also, these substances are part of various supplements from the sports nutrition group.
Another indispensable component in autumn is vitamin D. In late autumn, when the sun does not shine much, it rains more often, it is useful to take vitamin in the form of dietary supplements.
In addition, in October-November it is useful to eat often broccoli, beets, fennel, kohlrabi, carrots, leeks, parsley, celery, spinach, Brussels sprouts cabbage, chicory. These foods are not just rich in substances that strengthen the immune system. They contain components that support healthy joints in the autumn. It is also useful for people whose knees ache in autumn to pay attention to pears, apples, quince, plums, figs (especially dried), persimmon and papaya, which are a treasure trove of cartilage-healthy ingredients. And of course, in the run-up to winter, it is very important to consume oily sea fish as often as possible, such as cod, halibut, mackerel. The fat contained in them is a good lubricant for the joints. But at the same time, it is better to avoid canned fish - they may contain substances that exacerbate inflammatory processes.
Go in for sports. Proper exercise helps maintain healthy joints and strengthens muscles (strong muscles take some of the load off the joints). Physical activity improves the general condition of the body, which is crucial in rheumatic diseases. In addition, any movement contributes to a change in pressure inside the joint, and this prevents the development of more serious diseases of the musculoskeletal system. The best exercises for the skeleton, according to rheumatologists, are swimming, walking and cycling.
Drink plenty of fluids. The lack of moisture negatively affects the state of the synovial membrane of the joints (it covers the surface of all joints and ligaments). When the body is dehydrated, the lubrication dries up in the joints, which also causes pain.
Maintain a stable body weight. With an increase in body weight, the load on the joints increases greatly, they begin to hurt. Proper diet and an active lifestyle are the best prevention against obesity and knee pain.
Rest! In addition to sports and physical activity, the body also needs adequate rest. Without it, our body loses the ability to restore its strength. In this regard, night rest is very important. Make sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep.
Get a massage. With pain in the knees, a massage gives a good effect. Manual therapy improves blood circulation and helps relieve pain in various types of arthritis and other ailments of the musculoskeletal system. Even the usual light stroking of the joint improves blood flow, warms it up and relieves tension in the affected area.
Take painkillers. If the pain is very severe, then you can take an anti-inflammatory non-steroidal agent based on ibuprofen, diclofenac, ketoprofen, naproxen or salicylic acid in the form of a tablet, ointment or suppository.
Although researchers today do not have an exact answer why joint diseases are exacerbated in autumn, thousands of people all over the planet are anxiously waiting for the beginning of September. For them, this means that attacks of seasonal pain in the knees, elbows, and shoulders will soon begin. If you also belong to this huge group of people who are sensitive to changes in nature, then do not forget to prepare in advance for the cold season. Review your diet, stock up on warm clothes, do your favorite sport, and let this autumn pass for you without pain and limitation of activity.