When winter sets in, it’s tempting to want to hibernate on the couch for a few months until the weather warms up and the body thaws out. Joint pain tends to flare up during the colder months, particularly if you suffer from osteoarthritis, but there are some simple things you can do to help look after your joints this winter.

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CURCUMIN

Known as the “Spice of Life” in Indian cultures, curcumin is an extract of turmeric and it has been used for a long time in traditional Ayurvedic medicine to help relieve inflammation. Certain types of joint pain are caused by inflammation of the joint tissue and if persisting inflammation symptoms go untreated, it can lead to significant problems down the track.

Results of studies on the effect of curcumin extract on joint health have been compelling. In one study1, those taking 500mg twice per day of curcumin extract saw a 58% reduction in their global WOMAC scores (Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index). In another study2, subjects took curcumin extract combined with black pepper extract, boswellia and ginger extract. The subjects showed a huge improvement in their WOMAC and VAS (Visual Analog Scores) for joint comfort, stiffness & mobility after just 56 days, they also experienced less stiffness in the morning and showed improvement in joint mobility when walking.

EXERCISE

Don’t let the cold weather upset your exercise regime, rug up and get out and about, your physical and mental health will benefit! Exercise is key to help keep joints strong and flexible, particularly exercises like yoga, swimming and pilates that are kinder on the knees and hips. Plus, for every kilogram you lose, you take four times that of pressure off your knees, and even more off your hips, so shifting any additional kilos is a win-win. Strengthening exercises like weight training help to build muscle that support the joints.

If you’re new to regular exercise, don’t try and pound the pavement for an hour straight away, start slow and build up gradually. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week and make sure you always warm up first, especially in winter! If you find your muscles get a bit sore from an increase in physical activity, an Epsom salt bath works wonders.

References:

1 Belcaro G et.al.Product-evaluation registry of Meriva, a curcumin-phosphatidylcholine complex, for the complementary management of osteoarthritis. Panminerva Med.2010;52 (2 Suppl 1):55-62

2 S Natarajan & M Majeed. To assess the efficacy and Safety of NILIN™ SR tablets in the management of osteoarthritis of knee. Int J of Pharm and Life Sci.2012; 3(2):1413-1423.