Blog , Health and Wellness

Why Do My Joints Hurt in the Cold?

Posted on Tuesday, August 29, 2023
by AMAC, D.J. Wilson
hands on irritated knee joint with joint pain in cold in writing

Joint pain

Joint pain is increasingly common as people age. While it may be associated with infection, illness, or allergic reaction, it can also exist in the absence of underlying disease. For example, a person may repeatedly lift something and feel joint pain from overuse. This does not mean that the person has an infection, illness, or allergy. Cold weather is similarly associated with varying degrees of joint pain. To answer the question, “Why do my joints hurt in the cold?” Twin Cities Pain Clinic offers the following basic explanation:

“As the weather turns cold, barometric pressure drops. The decrease in pressure allows the tissue in your body to expand. This expansion can compress your joints, making it painful to move and flex them.”

However, anyone experiencing joint pain is cautioned to see a physician for proper diagnosis and treatment if needed.

Synovial fluid connection

Some research indicates that cold weather may cause synovial fluid to thicken. This fluid is found in the joints of the human body. It helps to absorb shocks and lubricate the joints. When the fluid thickens, it becomes more difficult for a person to move easily. This causes decreased mobility along with accompanying joint pain.

See your doctor

It’s worth repeating that anyone experiencing decreased mobility and/or joint pain should seek the care of a medical professional. A doctor should be seen to identify the cause or to rule out infection, illness, or allergic reaction. Should a doctor suspect that weather conditions are contributing factors to joint pain, there are some practices that may be suggested to maintain a patient’s comfort levels. Read on for tips to decrease joint pain in the cold.

Conquering the cold – keeping joints warm is key

  • Make your health a priority – monitor how you feel and learn ways to address joint and bone pain.
  • Stay active – moving the body keeps the blood flow going, so it’s important to exercise regularly and move around. Choose gentle forms of physical exercise to include things like swimming, tai-chi, and yoga. Avoid harsh exercise which can wear-down joints.
  • Use a reliable source of heat – set the climate to a comfortable temperature for your body.
  • Wear layers – layer clothing to help keep warm. Do not overlook your hands and feet and wear a hat if chilled.
  • Use a heated blanket – Drape a blanket over your shoulders to keep warm. Or use a heated blanket to warm your joints.

Also do these

  • Stay adequately hydrated – this serves to keep joints lubricated and flush out toxins to reduce inflammation.
  • Practice self-care and overall healthy living – this helps to keep bones and joints in tip-top shape.
  • Manage pain appropriately – see your medical doctor regularly and discuss ways to manage joint pain if required. Work with your doctor to map out a treatment plan.

Sudden pain

The sudden onset of pain could potentially indicate a serious injury, infection, or disease which requires medical attention. Prolonged joint pain that lasts more than a few days, pain that does not improve with self-care, or joint pain accompanied by additional symptoms such as swelling, redness, warmth, or tenderness to the touch, should also be medically evaluated.

The truth

The question, “Why do my joints ache in the cold?” is totally legitimate. Many folks claim to “sense the cold” via sensations in their bones. It is likely that this is related to a decrease in pressure which allows tissues to expand and compress the joints and/or is related to the thickening of synovial fluid that contributes to stiff, creaky, and even painful joints. Studies do show a strong correlation between weather changes and joint sensitivity, but more scientific investigation is needed to gain full understanding.

For information specifically related to rain and joint pain, click here.

This article is purely informational and is not intended as a medical resource. See your doctor for medical diagnosis and treatment.

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Dr Peter Roennfeldt
Dr Peter Roennfeldt
7 months ago

Understanding the intricate relationship between cold weather and joint pain offers valuable insights into our body’s response to external changes. The Twin Cities Pain Clinic’s explanation about barometric pressure’s role in joint pain is particularly enlightening. Furthermore, the discussion on the viscosity changes in synovial fluid during colder temperatures provides a deep dive into the physiological aspects of joint discomfort. To enhance the holistic approach to joint pain management, it’s pivotal to consider diverse treatment and rehabilitation methodologies. “Comparing Chiropractic and Physiotherapy Protocols with a Focus on Patient Education for Empowered Rehabilitation” offers an in-depth perspective on patient-centered treatments that go beyond just symptom relief. When combined, these insights equip individuals with a comprehensive toolkit to address joint discomfort and promote overall joint health.

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