Can cold weather trigger your joint pain?


For many arthritis patients, winter brings more than just cold weather. It also brings aches and pains in their bones and joints, seemingly brought on by storms and dropping temperatures.

But don't blame the cold for your pain. Scientists say these aches and pains are the result of shifts in barometric pressure.

There's been plenty of research between weather and joint pain, and the results tend to be sparse and contradictory. But researchers and arthritis patients alike generally agree that the weather does have an effect on joint pain, mainly due to barometric pressure.

Barometric pressure is the weight of the air pressing against the surface of the earth. When that pressure changes for any reason, it can trigger joint pain, usually in arthritis sufferers. Arthritis affects the whole joint, which is full of nerve endings, so when barometric pressure shifts, the joint stiffens, causing pain.

Arthritis sufferers can typically manage their joint pain with exercise, diet, weight management and over-the-counter pain relievers. But what do you do when the cold weather — and joint pain — sets in? Here are a few ways to manage weather-related joint pain:

Stay warm. Dress in layers, keep your home and car heated, try sleeping under an electric blanket and consider tossing your clothes in the dryer to warm them up before you get dressed. Apply a heating pad to painful joints.

Get moving. Exercise helps loosen up joint stiffness. Try a brisk walk on the treadmill, a swim in a heated pool or an indoor cycling class.

Stay busy. Distractions are a powerful tool when it comes to keeping your mood up. This type of joint pain typically goes away once your body has acclimated, so keep active and keep your mind occupied.

Get a massage. Some joint pain can come from the muscles around the joint, so you may experience some relief by giving those muscles some pampering.

Try acupuncture. The process of receiving acupuncture can be relaxing and might provide some pain relief.

If you think you might have arthritis or want to learn more about treatments, reach out to our Orthopedics and Sports Medicine team. At Goshen Health, we provide comprehensive and innovative bone and joint care designed to help patients get the most out of life. We specialize in both nonsurgical and surgical solutions for your pain, depending on your individual needs.

For more information about how we can treat your arthritis pain, call (574) 534-2548.