Tips for Managing Joint Pain Over the Holidays

This year, the holiday season is different for lots of people, and you may be looking forward to developing new traditions or forging ahead with time-honored ones that you treasure. Regardless of your plans, there’s one thing you want to avoid, and that’s more joint pain than usual. 

Here at our offices in Encino and Los Angeles, California, Arash A. Dini, MD, and our staff want you to have all the joy of the season -- and no extra pain! We’ve put together this list of tips for managing your joint pain in the hopes that you’re able to embrace the season instead of spending it with achy joints. 

There are a few aspects of traditional holiday celebrations that can increase your joint pain. By anticipating the issues and planning for them, you may be able to avoid the excess pain. 

1. Beware the pitfalls of travel

Far fewer people are expected to travel this holiday season, due to the dangers of COVID-19. However, if you’re planning a trip, you should know that a long car ride or plane journey can make your joints stiff and painful. 

Be sure to schedule in lots of stops, preferably in outdoor areas with plenty of space, where you can stretch and move to keep your joints from getting too stiff. If you’re flying, be sure to get up and walk along the aisle to stretch.

When you arrive, you may want to take the time to do some stretches and mobility exercises to get the kinks out of your joints. 

2. Watch what you eat

Around the world, people enjoy special food traditions centered around the winter holidays. Maybe you bake 1,000 cookies every year, or you’re known for a signature dish. Either way, deviating from your healthy diet could bring on a flare. 

Make sure you consume plenty of fruits and vegetables, even if you indulge a bit. Limit sugar and alcohol. Both can increase inflammation and pain, as well as contribute to holiday weight gain, which adds stress to your joints. 

One problem for many people is the “all or nothing” trap. If you eat a piece of cake, it doesn’t mean your day is ruined, so you should have some ice cream, too. Indulge in a few treats, but remember that you can always get right back on track. 

3. Lower the stress

Stress is one sure way to bring about increased joint pain, and though the holidays can be joyous and fun-filled, they can also be very stressful. Try not to overcommit, and remember to schedule time for yourself. 

This year may be particularly stressful as so many families can’t gather because of COVID. Holiday depression is real, and it can enhance the physical pain you feel. The additional pain makes you more depressed, and you find yourself in a vicious circle. It’s important to acknowledge how you feel, and talking to someone may help. 

Look for ways to connect with your loved ones safely, whether that’s with a long phone call, a talking via video call, or even writing old-fashioned letters. You may drop gifts off on porches or find other ways to be together while remaining physically distant. 

If you’re experiencing new joint pain, or your pain is increasing, schedule an appointment with Dr. Dini. There may be treatments that can help, so you can go into the holiday season feeling less pain. You can book an appointment in either Los Angeles or Encino by simply calling the office of your choice.

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