Cold Weather and Joint Pain: Are They Related?

blonde-woman-feel-joint-pain-in-knee-while-exercizing-ft-ss | Cold Weather and Joint Pain: Are They Related? | feature
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Do aches, pains, and stiffness correlate with weather changes, especially the wintry days of winter? And what are ways to help patients get more comfortable when the weather turns cold? Let’s explore the potential link between cold weather and joint pain in the following article!

RELATED: 27 Essential Oil Recipes For Pain Relief

In this article:

  1. Do Your Joints Hurt When the Weather Gets Colder?
  2. Cold Weather Can Cause Joint Pain? | Possible Causes 
  3. Some People Are More Susceptible Than Others 
  4. How to Relieve Joint Pain in Cold Days
  5. When to Consult a Doctor


Potential Links Between Cold Weather and Joint Pain:

Do Your Joints Hurt When the Weather Gets Colder?

When it gets colder outside, joint pain tends to occur in many people. Although it can happen in any part of the body, this cold-weather achiness is most common in lower-body weight-bearing joints (knees, hips, and ankles). 

While only a few research has tried to explore what is behind this phenomenon, experts have a few theories to decode the potential link between cold weather and joint pain. 


Cold Weather Can Cause Joint Pain? | Possible Causes 

Barometric Pressure Drops

One popular theory relates to barometric pressure, a measurement of the weight of the air. 

When a cold front moves in, barometric pressure usually drops, meaning less stress from the air on your body, and tendons, muscles, and the surrounding tissues begin to expand. This expansion may lead to joint pain (particularly in joints affected by arthritis).

Barometric pressure changes can also cause an inflammatory response in the joints. This response could increase the pain due to changes in blood circulation and possible nerve fiber sensitivity. 


Blood Conserves Heat in Vital Organs

Another theory is that, during colder days, the body will send more blood to vital organs (like your heart and lungs) to keep them warm.

This effort not only gets your blood routed away from your knees, arms, and legs but also takes away the warmth and constricts blood vessels at these joints. As a result, these areas become colder and stiffer due to less blood flow, eventually leading to discomfort and pain.


Moods/Lifestyles Changes

blonde-woman-stay-warm-at-home-ss | Cold Weather and Joint Pain: Are They Related? | Moods/Lifestyles Changes

Mood and lifestyle in wintry weather can amp up knee pain as well:

  • During dreary days, we can experience mood swings. Sadness, depression, or even trivial negative thoughts can worsen your pain.
  • Also, you probably spend more time outdoors on warm, sunny days than when it’s cold and wet. That might equal little exercise less, likely leading to more pain and stiffness.


Lack of Vitamin D 

Colder temperatures may make your body fall short of vitamin D. Because when you’re hibernating inside, you’re also hiding from our natural source of Vitamin D – the Sun. And according to many scientists, a lack of this vital nutrient can ramp up soreness in joints.


Other Theories

Another idea calls on synovial fluid – a kind of fluid in your joints that gets thicker in cold temperatures. High humidity (moisture in the air) could also play a role.


Some People Are More Susceptible Than Others  

People who experience chronic pain and arthritis patients seem to be more vulnerable to this phenomenon.

Definition: Degenerative arthritis (also called osteoarthritis) has common symptoms such as pain and stiffness. More than 100 types of arthritis have been found, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and gout – both are inflammatory diseases causing pain and swelling in joints. 


How to Relieve Joint Pain in Cold Days

There’s no need to pack up and move to a different climate whenever it gets colder. There are easy ways to relieve joint pain in your own house:

  • Dip your hands and feet in a paraffin bath, a small machine that melts paraffin wax. Let the wax harden. It helps your body absorb the heat and soothe achy spots. A heating pad can also help.
  • Try yoga, swimming, simple stretches, or any exercises that are gentle on the joints. These exercises will reduce the pressure on your joints(making them less prone to injury) and help build up muscle and bone strength.  
  • Dress in layers to stay warm(including gloves and warm socks), taking warm showers or baths, or cranking up the heat inside your house.      
  • Maintain a healthy weight to reduce pressure on your joints(especially your knees). 
  • Get quality sleep

RELATED: 6 Simple Shin Splints Exercises To Help Relieve Pain


When to Consult a Doctor

Pay careful attention to any unusual symptoms in your joints (redness, persistent swelling, difficulty putting pressure on, or using the joint, etc.) and make timely consultation with your physician. You may also ask your doctor about interventive medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

While research hasn’t provided substantial evidence decoding the relation between cold weather and joint pain, hopefully, these tips listed above could help you whenever it gets colder outside! 


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