Did you have an aunt while growing up who could always predict a storm was brewing because her shoulder pain got worse? To our amazement she was usually right. The pain wasn’t in her imagination because there are definitely some changes that happen to our joints when temperatures drop. Let’s discover how cold weather affects arthritis and joint pain.
Why Do We Ache More In Winter?
Ask anyone with arthritis or typical aches and pains, and most will agree they dread the cold weather. They find the cold temperatures exacerbate their joint pain. Scientists and researchers don’t agree there is one single reason for an increase in joint pain and cold weather, but most agree there is a combination of scenarios that leads to increased pain and stiffness. Humidity, precipitation, and temperature do have an effect on those with arthritis.
Drop In Barometric Pressure
When the cartilage that acts as a cushion for your joint gets worn down from wear and tear, the exposed nerves become more sensitive.
When the barometric pressure gets lower, air pressure is pushing against the body to a lesser degree. This causes our muscles, scar tissue, and tendons to expand and contract, putting more pressure on nerves that control our pain centers.
Even a small change in the barometric pressure can cause inflammation and pain.
Drop In Temperature
A sudden drop in temperature can make our joints swell, putting more pressure on the nerves that control pain. More pressure equals more pain.
Decreased temperatures can thicken the fluid inside our joints causing stiffness and pain.
Arthritis and cold temps cause our body to constrict and our blood flow slows down.
We use energy to keep our bodies warm, and our joints are more predisposed to be affected by the lack of warmth.
Mood Changes From Weather
Cold, dreary weather can be depressing causing our perception of pain to become amplified.
Getting Through Arthritis And Cold Weather
Your favorite aunt wasn’t wrong. Arthritis and cold temperatures cause more pronounced pain.
- Warm baths, lots of layers, mittens, gloves, and scarves can keep your body warmer.
- Even though you might want to cuddle up on the sofa, your best antidote is to move. Go outside and get some gentle exercise.
- Work on losing some weight to take stress off of joints.
- Use heating pads to soothe your joints.
Contact The Arthritis Group at (215) 725-7400 if your arthritis has become significantly worse with winter temperatures.