Have you noticed that you might be a little slow getting out of bed lately? Moving around seems to take more effort? Do you feel nagging little aches in your neck, back, shoulders, hips, or knees early in the morning or on cold nights? Welcome to the Winter Woes. While basic joint pain can affect anyone just about any time, it’s much more common when the weather is cooler. Here are five easy ways to get relief for those achy joints:
- Warm up before getting around: A simple practice that can help reduce your chance of injury is to warm up your muscles and joints before exerting yourself. During the winter, try easing into your morning by stretching in bed before your feet hit the floor! Not only will you gently get those joints and muscles moving, you’ll also give your mind and spirit an energetic boost.
- Rub it out: Topical pain relievers can provide temporary relief from painful joints and muscles for up to 4 to 8 hours. Look for a cream or gel that contains menthol, eucalyptus, lidocaine, or capsaicin (a natural compound that gives chili peppers their heat). Try rubbing it on a smaller area to start because the warming sensation will spread. Just be careful not to touch any mucous membranes when you’re applying or wearing it. (QuickTip: Patches work well too. Try one on your shoulder or lower back.)
- Wrap it up: If you spend time outside, cover your knees and elbows. You can find knee warmers and arm warmers in just about any outdoor sporting goods shop. A good rule of thumb: If the temp drops below 75 degrees, start covering up. The great thing about arm and leg warmers is that you can roll them down or take them off and stuff them in a pocket as the day warms up.
- Soothe with Epsom salt: Epsom salt is a longstanding home remedy for muscle and joint aches. You can find it in the first aid section of any supermarket or drug store. Add about two cups of USP-grade Epsom salt to warm running water in the bathtub and soak for about 10 to 15 minutes. Don’t have a tub? Try soaking a hand towel in hot water and Epsom salt and wrapping it around your joint or muscle. (FunFact: Epsom salt soothes sunburn too, so keep it on hand year-round!)
- Get ahead of the pain: Over-the-counter pain relievers — aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium — can be most effective if taken when you first feel pain instead of waiting until your pain becomes unbearable. They can also usually be used in combination with other treatments. (You’ll want to talk with your doctor or Teladoc before trying any new medications.)
Not sure how to manage joint and muscle aches? Teladoc can help. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, Teladoc is here to help you diagnose and treat minor, non-emergency injuries such as swelling, backache, sprains, strains, and even arthritis. Be sure to download the Teladoc app so you’ll have a team of licensed doctors at your fingertips 24/7. In the meantime, give yourself permission to ease up a bit for just a few more weeks. Spring will be here before you know it!
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