When the Weather Shifts, Do Your Joints Ache?
Does it ever feel like your joints predict when the cold season will hit? You are not imagining that winter joint pain.
A 2023 study published in the Annals of Medicine states that 83% of patients with arthritis are sensitive to weather characteristics such as temperature and barometric pressure. In fact, many clinicians will tailor their joint treatment plans to meet the weather conditions, especially during winter.
This article will discuss the weather factors that can impact pain, why it happens, and treatments that might help.
What's Up With the Weather and Joint Pain?
These are two seemingly unrelated things, but weather can significantly impact how your joints feel. There are several factors involved.
Barometric pressure measures the air's weight as it pushes on everything, including your joints. When the barometric pressure is stable, you don’t even notice it. When the weather shifts, though, the pressure can fluctuate.
When you have an injury, the instinct for many is to put pressure on it. Compression helps reduce swelling, and swelling can cause pain. Barometric pressure has the same compressing effect. So, when barometric pressure drops, the lack of compression can cause tissue to swell, leading to painful joints.
The temperature usually drops with the barometric pressure, and muscles and joints stiffen. When joints stiffen up, the oil that keeps them moving smoothly isn’t as effective, which means less mobility and even more discomfort.
Humidity has an indirect effect on joint health. You tend to move less when it’s cold and damp out, especially if your joints are already stiff and achy. Activity helps keep joints healthy and pain-free.
Humidity and warm weather can also be an issue. People feel more tired; some get headaches when the humidity goes up. That slows them down, as well.
Managing Joint Pain When the Weather isn't Cooperating
Movement is the great equalizer when it comes to joint pain. It’s essential to stay active, even on days when winter weather is making you hurt.
Here are some cold weather joint pain remedies that might help:
- Don’t give in to the cold – If it is cold outside, take extra steps to keep your joints warm. Wear warm clothing, take plenty of hot showers or baths, and cover up with a blanket when relaxing.
- Dress in layers – Layers of clothing insulate the body to hold in warm. When you get up in the morning, dress in layers and peel them off as the day heats up.
- Stretch often – Get in the habit of doing daily stretches, ideally in the morning, to wake up those joints. You might also add yoga to your exercise plan for flexibility and joint support.
- Manage your activity – Exercise and movement are typically good for the joints, but don’t overdo it. Also, winter weather activities like shoveling snow might lead to more joint damage and increased pain.
- Heat treatments – Target specific joints with a heating pad. Heating pads can penetrate the tissue and deliver warmth to problem areas like the sacroiliac joints.
- Try massage therapy – Massages will loosen up the muscles that support your joints, improving mobility.
Tailoring Treatment to Weather Conditions
If the cold season is a struggle, talk to your doctor about tailoring your treatment to the weather changes. For example, you might do a round of physical therapy during the cold season or just before to strengthen the supporting tissue around the joints.
Also, your doctor might want to give you prescription medication that you can use to manage joint pain on those days when the weather is slowing you down.
You could schedule laser therapy just as the temperature starts to drop, too. It is pain-free and requires no recovery time.
Beyond Pain Relief: The Holistic Benefits of Aspen Laser
Laser therapy stimulates the body’s healing processes to decrease inflammation naturally. This therapy delivers light deep into a painful joint. That light triggers chemical changes that encourage damaged cells and tissue to heal.
Laser therapy can:
- Reduce pain and inflammation
- Speed up healing
- Stimulate tissue regrowth
- Improve blood circulation deep in the joint
Laser therapy does this without medication or surgical incisions.
As soon as you start to feel seasonal joint pain and other weather-related aches, make an appointment for an easier cold season. When you feel better, you move more, and that movement helps keep your joints healthier.
Learn more about how laser therapy can help you get through the winter pain-free. Contact an Aspen Laser therapy professional in your area today.