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How Cold Weather Impacts Joint Pain

If you experience joint pain, winter months may be particularly difficult. It’s common for cold, damp weather to exacerbate joint pain, particularly if you experience severe arthritis. While scientists haven’t been able to identify a single reason for this phenomenon, there are a combination of factors at play which contribute to joint pain being more pronounced in the cold weather.

Changes in Barometric Pressure

Barometric pressure refers to the weight of the air. As the temperature gets colder, barometric pressure drops, causing your muscles, tendons and tissue to expand. This can lead to pain in confined spaces such as joints.

Even small drops in barometric pressure can have a significant impact on joint inflammation and the associated pain you experience.

Thickening of Joint Fluid

Your joints contain fluid which helps provide the lubrication necessary for proper motion. As the temperature drops, this fluid becomes thicker, which impedes proper mobility. This causes your joints to feel stiff and painful as you move them.

Increased Nerve Sensitivity

The expansion of structures in your joints caused by drops in barometric pressure place greater pressure on the nerves controlling your pain centers. When the cartilage in your joints wears down, these nerves become more sensitive in cold weather, and this can exacerbate the pain you’re experiencing.

Increased Joint Stiffness

joint stiffness in cold weather Your joints tend to become less flexible in cold weather. The drop in temperature causes them to become lighter and more tense. This increased tension impedes joint mobility, which can result in pain.

Reduced Activity

In general, people tend to be less active during the winter months. For many individuals, cold weather can be a deterrent to outdoor exercise. Since joint conditions often improve with regular exercise, this reduced level of activity during winter can often make your joint pain worse.

Mood Changes

There may also be a psychological component to the increased joint pain you feel during winter. Many individuals experience changes in their mood that are associated with the weather. Often, cold, dreary weather can intensify feelings of depression, which can amplify your perception of and sensitivity to pain. Conversely, during warm, sunny summer weather, you may be feeling similar levels of pain, but your boosted mood may make you less aware of this pain.

Tips for Reducing Joint Pain in Cold Weather

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to alleviate the intensified joint pain you experience during the winter:

Colorado Advanced Orthopedics Can Help

The team at Colorado Advanced Orthopedics is committed to helping you get back to enjoying a pain free life. Our orthopedic specialists can recommend a variety of conservative treatments to help you manage your joint pain during the winter months. We will always listen carefully to your goals and concerns in order to identify a customized treatment plan that will most effectively address your unique needs.

Contact us to schedule an appointment. We serve patients in Meeker and throughout the White River Valley.

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