Why Cold Weather Causes Joint Pain (& How to Handle It)

Why Cold Weather Causes Joint Pain (& How to Handle It)

Many people experience achy joints when cold weather hits, especially when they have past injuries or chronic conditions like arthritis. Some can even predict certain weather changes based on how their joints feel. This might make you wonder, “what is the connection between cold weather and joint pain?”

What’s interesting is that research done on cold weather and joint pain over the years has not been conclusive. Some of that is due to small study samples that weren’t done in the most reliable ways. However, most experts do not doubt that achy joints during inclement weather is very real.

4 Common Reasons for Cold Weather Joint Pain

Here are some of the most common explanations for why people experience joint pain as temperatures drop.

1. Barometric Pressure Changes

Barometric pressure, also known as atmospheric pressure, refers to the amount of air pressure in the atmosphere. This number changes all the time and varies depending on each specific location on the Earth.

The weather can also change barometric pressure. This pressure often falls just before cold weather hits. When barometric pressures decline, it may cause tissues in your body to expand. This can lead to joint pain.

Another theory is that people with conditions like arthritis that cause joint pain might be sensitive to barometric pressure changes. If the cartilage between their bones has worn away, the nerves underneath may respond to barometric pressure changes, which in turn can lead to pain.

2. Joint Fluid Becomes Thicker

There is something called synovial fluid within your joints that acts to reduce friction during movement. During cold weather, this fluid may become thicker. This can prevent it from flowing as well and lead to joints that are stiff and creaky.

3. Inactive Joints

It’s a double-edged sword: Your joints hurt because of the cold weather, which limits your movement. But inactivity can also make joint pain worse.

4. Cold Plus Humid Weather

Sometimes, the combination of cold weather and high humidity can be damaging to our bones and cartilage. This can make joint pain worse in areas with high humidity.

How to Manage Cold Weather Joint Pain

Thankfully, there are ways you can prepare for cold weather joint pain and help reduce its symptoms. Here are some things you can do.

Stay Warm

Do what you can to keep yourself warm:

  • Dress in layers, including sweaters, bulky coats, thick socks, and gloves, when you go out during the day.
  • Use plenty of blankets when you’re home and during the night. You might invest in an electric blanket for extra warmth.
  • Keep the inside of your home warm.
  • Take warm showers or baths.

Try Gentle Exercise

High-impact exercise is generally not good for damaged joints, but some movement can help prevent more joint pain.

Try gentle exercises like walking, yoga, swimming, and stretching. If you plan to exercise outside, spend plenty of time stretching and warming up first.

Take Care of Your Health

Make sure you are supporting your joints with a healthy lifestyle. Eat nutritious foods, get enough sleep, and take some time each day to breathe.

Prevent Swelling

Swelling during cold weather can make joints very achy. Help prevent swelling by wearing bands, braces, or well-fitting gloves (depending on where your joint pain resides). This can reduce swelling from the joint fluid and also improve your stability.

Avoid Straining

Lifting or moving heavy items can put a lot of strain on your joints. Avoid these types of activities if you can and get someone else to help you.

Use a Paraffin Bath

Paraffin wax is often used cosmetically for the hands and feet. It may help joint pain, too. A paraffin bath machine will melt the wax so you can dip your hands and feet into it. Let the wax harden so your limbs take in the heat. This can help reduce pain in your joints during cold weather.

Distract Yourself With Joyful Things

The colder, darker days of winter can leave many people feeling sad and depressed. When your mood is low, it can lower your threshold for pain. You might feel your joint pain more intensely during these times.

Look for ways to bring yourself joy each day. Take care of your body and mind, and focus on parts of the season that bring you peace, happiness, and calm.

Use Pain-Relieving Products

Over-the-counter medications are available to help with cold-weather joint pain. If you prefer a more natural route, there are rubs, creams, gels, and ointments can help with pain relief. We offer many of these at Nature’s Ideal, including:


Shop for more all-natural pain relief here.

Dec 5th 2019 Nature's Ideal

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