As the days grow shorter and temperatures drop, many people experience increased joint pain. Cold weather, among other factors, can aggravate joint pain symptoms for those with arthritis and other rheumatologic conditions. However, there are several things you can do to help relieve joint pain during winter.

Why Do My Joints Hurt More in the Winter?

While there is no universally agreed-upon explanation for why joints hurt more in the winter, experts believe that a major contributing factor is atmospheric pressure. As the weather grows colder, barometric pressure decreases, which can cause tendons and muscles to contract and aggravate sensitive nerves. Humidity and temperature can also be contributing factors.

Common Causes of Joint Pain During the Winter

  • Atmospheric effects
    In addition to the factors mentioned above, it’s also thought that the cold can cause your joints’ synovial fluid to become more viscous, reducing its ability to lubricate and cushion the bones within your joints.
  • Reduced activity levels
    People tend to be less active in the winter, and inactivity can cause stiffness and pain. Reduced activity levels can also lead to winter weight gain, which puts increased pressure on your joints.
  • Your mood
    When you are feeling negative emotions such as sadness or depression (as is more common in the winter months) it can impact your perception, causing you to be more aware of pain than you might be during the summer months.

Tips to Relieve Joint Pain During the Winter

  • Move your body!
    Gentle activity can keep blood flowing and prevent joints from becoming more stiff. But don’t overdo it! While movement can help soothe achy joints, be sure not to push to the point of severe pain. Don’t forget to warm-up beforehand, and stretch properly after any physical activity.
  • Dress properly
    While outside, it’s important to dress warmly with proper cold-weather attire. When possible, dress in layers, and be sure to wear appropriate gloves and socks to protect your fingers & toes.
  • Use heat relief tools
    Use gentle heat relief methods such as a heating pad, hot water bottle, or ointments with a warming component to soothe achy joints. A warm bath is another great way to reduce stiffness and soreness.
  • Proper nutrition
    Nutrition and maintaining a healthy weight can also play a big factor in reducing joint pain. Keep a balanced diet, steer away from inflammatory foods, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Light therapy
    Consider incorporating light therapy into your home in the form of a seasonal affective disorder (or SAD) lamp to improve your mood. Studies show that SAD affects an estimated 10 million Americans yearly. These lamps mimic natural sunlight and increase serotonin production in the brain, giving your mood a boost during the winter months.

While these tips can help alleviate winter joint pain, new or worsening symptoms could warrant a visit to the doctor. If you are experiencing severe pain, please reach out to discuss further.

About Advanced Rheumatology of Houston

With over 10 years of experience diagnosing and treating rheumatologic conditions, Dr. Tamar F. Brionez is dedicated to providing excellent independent healthcare for the Woodlands, TX community in a trustworthy, comforting setting. Get pain relief and enhance your quality of life with the expert treatment options available at Advanced Rheumatology of Houston. Set up a consultation by calling (281) 766-7886 or contacting us here.