Why Does Cold Weather Cause Joint Pain?


Not only does the winter season bring along an influx in colds, flu and sore throats, but unfortunately for many people, it also means joint pain. For those suffering from arthritis, or any other joint-related pain, the arrival of cold weather can be challenging. Whether you have first-hand experience of the links between arthritis and cold weather, or know someone who does, you’ll understand the struggle. Yet, despite the association between joint pain and cold weather, the science behind the link between the two still isn’t clear. Continue reading this post to find out why cold weather leads to joint pain, and more importantly what can be done to help combat this.

Is it all a myth?

Recently, a study was carried out on the relationship between rainfall and outpatient visits for joint or back pain. Working with over 11 million participants, the study found that only 18% of visits occurred on rainy days. Not only this, but there were actually slightly more visits on dry days. This shows that there is no significant correlation between claims for joint or back pain and the number of rainy days in the week of the outpatient visit. But then why is it that so many people report their joint pain worsens in winter? Could there be something else playing a part?

What effect could the weather be having on joints?

Whilst research fails to determine the link between weather and joint pain, there are various theories out there which could explain the link. The first of which is that those suffering from joint pain and arthritis are suspectable to fluctuations in barometric pressure. This can result in expansion and contraction of tendons, muscles and bones, resulting in the pain a person experiences. Low temperatures can also lead to thickening of the fluid within joints, leading to stiffer and more painful movement.

Another theory is that during the colder months, people are much more likely to spend time indoors and aren’t as active as they are in the summer. This can cause joints to become stiff, which makes moving around more painful.

How to ease joint pain caused by cold weather

Whether or not a clear link has been proven, the point of the matter is, if you’re suffering from joint pain, whether it be back, neck or knee pain – you want to do whatever you can to alleviate the pain. The first step is to remember to keep yourself warm, ensure that during the day you are properly wrapped up to avoid cold getting to the joint, then in the evening having a hot bath or shower to soothe the joint further.

Furthermore, stay active, even in wintertime. Whilst it can be tempting to stay inside, your joints will only suffer in the long run. Try low impact activities such as swimming or yoga, or a nice stroll in the countryside (just remember to warm up your joints properly).

When to see a professional

Whilst self-care is important, sometimes you can’t do enough to manage the pain that you are experiencing at home. If this is the case, arrange to see a GP, who can help provide advice, pain relief or further treatment to help you. They may even refer you to an orthopaedic consultant, who are experts in the treatment of bones and joints. Whilst it’s unclear why the cold weather causes joint pain, there is help available. If you’re looking to stay healthy this Winter take a read of our guide, don’t suffer this wintertime, let LycaHealth help.

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