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Joint pain can occur where multiple bones meet, causing an individual to feel physical pain or discomfort. It can be attributed to a number of factors and causes. Whatever the cause, many people with achy joints report symptoms that worsen during the colder months. To learn more about what might be the cause of joint pain during cold weather and what treatments may be available for this type of pain, keep reading below.
Why can cold weather cause joint pain?
- Barometric pressure changes — One of the most common causes of joint pain in cold weather is due to barometric changes in pressure. Changes in barometric pressure, like a sudden decrease, can cause muscles and tendons to stretch wider. This can place added stress on a joint that may already be under stress.
- Synovial fluid thickens — Another common cause of heightened joint pain during the winter months is the thickening of the synovial fluid. Synovial fluid is the liquid that can be found between the joints and acts as a lubricant to prevent your joints from grinding against each other each time you move. When the weather starts to become cold, the fluid in there starts to thicken, which can make it harder to move the joints and more likely that you’ll experience pain while moving them.
- Pain sensitivity becomes heightened — Cold temperatures can make pain sensitivity become heightened as well. If you experience joint pain regularly even during the warmer months, the way you feel pain may become altered during the winter and you may feel like your symptoms are worsening.
- Blood circulation is slowed — Cold weather can also slow the circulation of blood, which can make your joint pain worse.
What are some of the effects of joint pain?
- Stiff, achy joints — Joint conditions can lead to stiff, painful, and achy joints. They can make it difficult to move your joints without experiencing pain or uncomfortable sensations.
- Grating sensation in the joints — Joint conditions can also cause grating or grinding sensation in the joints. While this may not be painful for some, it can be extremely uncomfortable and disconcerting to experience.
- Trouble moving around — Joint pain can make it difficult to move around. If you experience heightened pain in your joints, you’ll probably have a harder time moving around or getting regular movement in each day.
- Difficulty completing regular daily activities — For those with joint pain, doing everyday things like walking, standing up, sitting down and other seemingly small tasks can become hard to complete. Joint pain can affect everything from moving your jaw to bending your knees.
What types of treatment can help joint pain caused by cold weather?
- Engaging in light exercise — Although it may be painful or difficult at first, keeping your joints mobile can be a great way to warm up your joints in the cold weather and keep them mobile. One of the worst things you can do for painful joints is to keep still, which may end up causing you more pain as a result.
- Applying heat to the areas of joint pain — Another method you can use is to use heating pads on the areas of pain on your body. When your joints get cold and achy, a good way to get quick relief is to warm them up! This may be effective short-term but may not be as effective in the long term.
- Seeking the care of a physical therapist — Another thing you can do to ease joint pain caused by cold weather is to consult with a physical therapist. Physical therapists can help you mobilize your joints within your pain threshold, and they can develop a personalized care plan to provide you with the tools you need to manage your pain and other symptoms. Physical therapists can be constructive and compassionate resources to help you tend to your joint pain caused by cold weather.