Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Winter Weather Joint & Brace FAQs

Can you wear a medical brace out in the snow?

Are your support braces water proof or water resistant?

Will I require more support when my joints are cold?

With winter weather upon us, it’s important to take some time to get the answers to your questions on how seasonal changes affect your health and how you use your braces during chillier months.

Does arthritis get worse in cold weather?

  • Despite conflicting reports and anecdotal evidence from arthritis sufferers, medical evidence does not conclusively support the idea that arthritis worsens in cold weather. That said, when atmospheric pressure drops during a cold front, the tissues in your joints may react by expanding with the decrease in pressure. This change may put additional pressure on the joints resulting in pain and the stiff feeling in joints.

  • Other medical studies suggest that commonly during the darker, colder winter season, moods and pain thresholds drop; therefore, people may ‘feel’ the pain more so than during ‘happier’ months.

  • Another key to why joint pain spikes during winter? People are less likely to exercise during the winter months, and physical movement is key to healthily managing arthritis.

Winter solution: Be sure to continue your exercise regimen during the cold months. Not only will exercise improve overall joint function but it is also a tremendous mood booster. Likewise, continue using your arthritic gloves or arthritis knee brace just as you would during warmer months. Be sure to bundle up and keep your body warm to avoid tissue expansion in the joints and additional arthritic pain.

I want to ski and snow board! What knee brace can I use for support?

  • If you’re thinking about skiing or snowboarding this season, make sure your orthopedic doctor has given you the go ahead to exercise.

  • A quality knee brace will provide support and aid in injury prevention without limiting mobility, look for a brace made out of neoprene - the same material used in wet suits - which is designed to handle intense moisture as well as protect the skin against the cold.

  • If you need more than just the light support of a neoprene brace, a hinged knee brace provides support for post-op knee patients who wish to continue vigorous physical activity.

Winter solution: You do not need to worry about water proofing neoprene to protect it from the snow. For other types of braces, wear water resistant pants on top of the brace to prevent water from weathering it or voiding warranties.

What is the difference between waterproof and water resistant products?

Waterproof: Waterproof indicates that water will not enter, leave or damage the item under any circumstances; the item is impervious to water.
Water resistant: Water resistant materials resist water though cannot completely prevent water from passing through the material. Typically, water resistant items can repel water up to a certain degree based on amount of time saturated with water but under certain circumstances, would eventually be permeated by the water.

Winter solutions: Look for medical support braces that are water resistant as your brace may be exposed to increased moisture from snowfall. You can always wear a water resistant pant or waterproof slip over the brace as an additional precaution.

Is there any way to add water resistant protection to a brace I already own?

Yes, there are a number of water resistant sprays that you can easily apply to your brace. Some of these sprays may affect warranties, so be sure to review your brace's warranty prior to apply any third party solvents.

I am worried about slipping on the ice and injuring myself further. What can I do?

  • Prior to the winter ice and snow, make sure your high traffic areas outside have hand rails you can use for support when walking.

  • Look for shoes that have substantial traction on the bottom to give additional support when walking on icy grounds.

  • Be sure to shovel snow and ice away so that you have an accessible and safe walking route.

About MMAR Medical Group: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is a supplier of orthopedic medical products including a wide selection of braces and supports. From top quality post-operative back braces to a wide selection of arthritis knee braces, MMAR Medical has bracing and support solutions for everyone.

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