Why do Joints Hurt More in Cold Weather?

What is it that your grandmother used to say? It seemed that she could predict bad weather just by rubbing her knee or her elbow. So, is there a correlation between bad weather and bad joints?

It seems like an old wives’ tale but it is really? What are some of the reasons why a joint will ache? Arthritis is a term that is used to describe joint pain. It is an inflammation of various joints in the body. This can be either hereditary (rheumatoid arthritis), due to injury, physical activity or age.

Joints are cushioned by fluid lubricant and cartilage at the ends of bones. To ensure that the joint moves through a proper range of motion, ligaments and tendons keep the bones in appropriate proportion to each other. Certain activities or movements can change that orientation and results in joint pain. Lack of lubrication, contact between bones and wearing down of cartilage can lead to the pain of arthritis.

So how do you control your pain? It could be medication, exercise, diet or even a natural remedy you have heard about. But, you may still have a flare-up in cold weather.

Here’s why. Cold weather has the tendency to slow things down. Think about candy over heat. As long as the heat is applied, the candy is able to be shaped and molded. When it gets cold, it is more likely to break when you try to manipulate it.

The same can be said of your joints. When the weather gets cold, it is harder to move joints than before. Muscles can stiffen up, making it even harder to manage daily activities. Even to move your muscles and joints can lead to inflammation.

When inflammation is involved, you have swelling. Swelling can make a joint hard to move. This is often felt by arthritis sufferers when the barometric pressure drops.

What can you do if you have arthritis? Here are a few tips to prevent pain during the winter months.

* Stay warm – If you plan on exercising in cooler weather, perform your warm-up inside. That way, your muscles are more flexible and ready to move once you step outdoors. Also, dress as warmly as you can. Layer your clothing so that you can hold the heat in and prevent stiffening.

* Try some new therapies – Ask your doctor about what you can do to manage cold weather. Stepping up your physical therapy or taking supplements can increase the lubrication in your joints and reduce inflammation. You will also be able to manage your daily activities.

Are joint pains a predictor of weather troubles? It might seem that way, but there is no definitive scientific proof. If you are affected, get help to avoid the added discomfort.

Treatment Options for Varicose Veins

Varicose veins can happen to anyone. They are not usually dangerous but can be quite unsightly. Find out what they are and the types of treatments used to get rid of them.

Varicosities can occur in any vein. When they are found in the rectum they are referred to as hemorrhoids. Most of the time, they are found in the thighs and lower legs. And, women are more prone to them than men.

The purpose of the venous system in the body is to return deoxygenated blood to the heart. Waste products that are picked up along the way are exchanged for oxygen in the lungs. When something interferes with the circulation of the blood it can lead to varicose veins.

The vessels swell in size to accommodate the backflow of blood. Weakened valves are one cause of varicosities. You are at risk for them if you:

* Stand for long periods of time
* Are pregnant
* Are overweight
* Are sedentary
* Have a family history of varicose veins

These are just some of the risk factors. If you have them you may not even take notice of them unless you are showing your legs. Many people with them don’t have any pain or discomfort associated.

You may see your doctor about ways to treat varicose veins. Without pain or other issue that affects your health, getting rid of them is purely cosmetic. Insurance companies are not in the habit of paying for cosmetic procedures but you can often find inexpensive ways to help get rid of them.

Exercise – Exercise can help to reduce the presence of varicose veins. It also helps you to control your weight, and less weight on your frame means less pressure on the veins of your legs.

Post pregnancy – Many women may develop them during pregnancy because of the increased weight and fluid in their tissues. It may take a few months post delivery but the varicosities usually disappear.

Other Treatments

If your problem involves pain, blood clots, inflammation and other risk factors or more serious side effects from non-treatment, you can usually get the insurance company to pay for a more extensive procedure.

Your doctor will perform tests to determine which treatment is best for you.

Laser treatments – These can be done in the doctor’s office using a local anesthetic. Precise laser energy is applied to the veins through the skin to destroy them. The vein will just disappear. Depending on the size of the varicose veins, this procedure may take more than one treatment.

Surgical Intervention – Since these are superficial veins, the deeper veins of the legs will take over the flow of blood, so your body won’t miss these. Small slits can be made in the skin and a light placed to locate the varicosities. They are them removed through these incisions.

Vein stripping involves inserting a plastic or metal catheter into the vein, tying it to one end of the vein and pulling it free from the leg. Applying pressure on the leg will tamponade the smaller veins attached to it and stop any bleeding.

Varicose vein treatment varies from home therapy (compression sleeves, exercise) to surgical intervention (laser, vein stripping). Ask your doctor about your options.

The Positive Effects of Autogenic Training

It is no secret that stress is detrimental to your physical as well as mental wellbeing. Autogenic training may offer some help in that area. It has been used to help decrease stress symptoms in the body.

What Is Autogenic Training?

Autogenic training is a type of stress-reducing technique. It works by helping you to achieve a meditative state in which you can learn to control your body’s response to suggestion. From there, you can begin to take control of your life back from the ravages of stress.

In a nutshell, the technique works to reverse the stress response in the body. When we are stressed, the body reacts as if it is sensing danger. This is termed the fight or flight response. It is normally exhibited when we feel that we are being threatened or in danger of bodily harm.

It results in a heightened awareness. Pupils dilate to take in more light. The heart rate increases. Adrenalin is secreted into the system, preparing your muscles for a fight or to have to run for your life.

Well, imagine being in this state of high alert all the time. Whenever we are stressed, that is in essence what the body is doing. It can wreak havoc on our systems and lead to conditions such as high blood pressure, anxiety, tension, irritability, pain and headaches.

Autogenics uses the body itself to reduce the stress. Here is how it works. This meditative technique was first used by a man named Johannes Schulz in Germany in the 30s. By using affirmations spoken out loud, the body can be lulled into a more relaxed state just by suggestion.

The autonomic nervous system which regulates the fight or flight response is affected. Autogenics has been shown to have positive effects on those suffering from stress, seasonal affective disorder and other conditions in the body.

You can practice it with very little training. Begin by finding a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. It is important to be free of distractions of any kind. Remove tight clothing, glasses and even contact lenses. Relax in a chair or lie flat on the floor.

Control your breathing. If you don’t already know, learn how to breathe deeply from the diaphragm to increase your oxygen intake. Start with a positive affirmation. If you are trying to achieve a calming state, use that as your affirmation.

You are setting the stage, and then concentrate on your arms. State that they are getting heavy and then getting warm. Now, move to your legs and repeat the same statements.

You can move from there to focus on your heart rate, your breathing, and other areas of your body that might exhibit stress. Continue to repeat your affirmations as well as the fact that you are in a calm state. You are completely aware of your surroundings so your body will respond. When you are completely relaxed you can open your eyes.

Autogenic training has a positive effect on conditions such as stress, heart issues and high blood pressure. Teaching your body to respond to relaxation can reduce the fight or flight response initiated by stress in the body.

Teen Depression: How to Recognize and Treat It

Depression is not strictly an adult condition. Teenagers can be affected by it as well. More and more teenagers are exhibiting signs of depression. Will you recognize them when they occur?

Depression is a condition that is characterized by many different symptoms. It has been equated with being down or having the blahs, but it goes much deeper than that. It could be described as a bout of sadness that goes on for a more extended period of time. With sadness, once the event that led to it has disappeared, more upbeat moods eventually follow. This is not so with depressive episodes.

With teens it is hard to recognize symptoms. During this time in their lives, they are bombarded with hormonal changes, libido, peer pressure, academic pressures and athletic pressures. Any one of these could contribute to the typical signs that are exhibited during depression: mood swings, irritability, anxiety and anger.

For parents this can be a scary situation and also an opportunity. Teens already think that their parents don’t know anything, but you can prove them wrong by keeping those lines of communication open. It is often hard to distinguish normal behavior for your teen if you are not used to their habits.

Talk to them. Let them know that you are available if they want to tell you anything that is bothering them. Even if they don’t take advantage of it, always make sure that you leave that door open.

Symptoms

So what are the symptoms that your teen may exhibit? They include but are not limited to increased episodes of sadness, changes in friends, changes in wardrobe, loss of concentration, lower energy levels, preoccupation with death, bouts of crying, loss of interest in their usual activities and declining grades.

Teens who are suffering from depression are also prone to risky behaviors to try and get away from their feelings. Look for signs of alcohol or drug abuse, smoking or law-breaking behavior.

If you notice any of these signs, try to coax the reason for their change in behavior from them. Whether you can or not, you may want to contact your doctor and make an appointment for a check-up. They can evaluate and talk to your teen. Let them see for themselves and suggest the best way to proceed.

Treatments

One form of treatment is medication but it is usually the last resort for poeple so young. Instead, you and your teen may be referred to a therapist for further evaluation.

Therapy is an important tool that can help a teen to get in touch with what is causing the depression to occur. They can learn to recognize and apply positive affirmations when negative thoughts enter their minds. Depending on the source, they can use visualization and cognitive behavior therapy to help confront different situations in their lives and receive positive results.

Teen depression is a serious matter. If your teen is showing signs like the ones mentioned, please get help right away.

Is Fasting for You?

Fasting has long been used as a religious practice, but some are using it as a way to lose weight. But is it right for you and is it healthy to do?

Fasting for weight loss is not recommended by dieticians and health professionals. Why? It is seen as another extreme form of dieting. When the body is deprived of something that it needs, it responds by holding on to what it already has.

This means that if you are trying to lose weight and you deprive the body of food, it will hold onto its fat stores in case of a disaster. This can really be a disaster for you as you can work out as hard as you want and still not see any movement on the scale.

When it comes to weight loss, what works best is a balanced way of eating. Fasting usually shows some weight loss but it is mostly water weight. This is the easiest to lose and also to regain once you begin eating food again.

Experts warn that if the weight is too easily lost, it will also be easier to put back on your body. That type of yo-yo technique can be detrimental not only to your weight-loss efforts but also to your heart and other organs of the body.

Fasts for weight loss are often done at the same time as a colon detox. This is again a problem for many professionals as these cleansings can remove good as well as harmful substances from the intestines compromising your health and also your body’s ability to digest and properly utilize your food.

Fasting is not recommended for certain people. If you have a condition like diabetes that requires you to manage your blood sugar, going without eating for any length of time can lead to a diabetic crisis.

For those who suffer from heart ailments, not eating can put a strain on your system. This is not recommended for those taking medicine for heart problems. Those of advanced age are also not recommended for fasting for any length of time.

Fasts are thought to also assist in detoxification when they are preceded by a healthy diet. Consuming proper nutrients before a fast can help your body to rid itself of excess toxins (without the benefit of the colon cleanse). It is not for weight loss but to help your metabolism to work in your favor. After the fast, return to a healthy diet again.

Before any fasting is done, consult a doctor. They can tell you if you are at risk by doing so or if it is okay for you to observe one, either for detox or for religious reasons.