It’s a question we get from our patients each winter, on a frequent basis – just why do my joints hurt more then normal when its cold? It’s something that does have some explanations, and there has been quite a lot of research investigating just exactly why this happens, so wrap up, get a nice warm drink and read on to learn why you might be sorer in the cooler weather…
What causes you to have increased pain in cold weather?
There are a few different mechanisms what can cause increased pain when its cold outside. First of all, barometric air pressure (which is the pressure in the surrounding air) is typically lower in cooler weather. This causes bones, tendons and muscles to expand, which in turn leads to increased pressure in an individuals joints, leading to more difficulty and pain to move.
Another important factor is what cold weather does to the synovial fluid in our joints. First of all, a quick catch up on what synovial fluid is; synovial fluid is a natural lubricant which is excreted into all of our joints as we move. Normally it is in a liquid like form, and works like a natural WD40 to keep our joints lubricated. In cold weather, this natural lubricant becomes thicker and more viscous, and doesn’t work as efficiently in keeping our joints nice and limber – joint and muscle pain can arise because of this.
Finally, a lot of us are generally a little less active over the cooler months, as it may be that snow and ice limit us from spending time outside and moving around. Because of this, more time may be spent on the couch or sitting down in general, and this in itself is a huge reason we see people complaining of neck and back pain in our clinic. Prolonged sitting or inactivity (because of bad weather or otherwise) can lead to increased pressure on our joints and muscles, and this can in turn lead to increased discomfort and pain.
What can I do about my weather-related pain?
Outside of spending the winter in Mexico, there are a few important things you can be doing to keep your pain symptoms at bay over the winter months. The first is to do your best to keep warm; dress in layers, and make sure to have nice hot showers or baths when needed. In doing so, you will help keep your muscles limber, and less likely to become uncomfortable.
It is also vitally important to keep moving around as much as you can, and to keep a well balanced and maintained diet. It’s easy in the winter months to spend more time on the couch and partake in a few tasty treats, and while there’s nothing wrong with this in moderation, if this becomes the norm it can lead to increased pressure on your joints and muscles, and so increased levels of discomfort. Completing regular exercise routines, whether it’s a walk around the block or some yoga in the front room, can keep your muscles and joints limber and relaxed.
Finally, it’s always a good idea to review with a local physiotherapist to figure out what is going on. Our physiotherapists are highly trained to assess and treat joint and muscle related pain, and to work with you to keep you moving and reaching your goals. If you would like to learn more about our physiotherapists, you can read their profiles by clicking here, or book directly online with them by clicking here. Finally, we have free downloadable eBooks on our homepage, and a back catalogue of blog entries for further reading and information.