The weather outside is frightful for most Americans in the winter, and during this time, many experience joint stiffness and discomfort. But why? Although the link between colder weather and joint pain isn’t clear, researchers have various theories about why this phenomenon seems so common.
Some of the reason why joint pain may intensify when the temperature drop includes these 3 theories:
- Barometric pressure changes: Some researchers theorize that the changes in barometric pressure, or the weight of the atmosphere, could be to blame. However, this is not yet scientifically proven.
- Seasonal affective disorder: Another theory is that fewer daylight hours makes people suffer from seasonal affective disorder, a common phenomenon in winter. Bad weather can impact mood and lead to depression, and if you feel depressed, that can intensify physical pain.
- Inactivity and being Some researchers note the correlation between the fact that many people are less physically active during the cold weather, which can impact joint health.
My Joints Hurt During the Winter. How Can I Reduce My Symptoms?
Orthopedic doctors have tips for how to reduce your risk for joint pain, including:
- Dress up warm: Wear layered clothing to ease the shock of the colder temperatures.
- Get enough exercise: Get regular exercise to build up your muscle and bone strength. This can reduce the pressure on your joints, and you’ll be less likely to injure yourself.
- Use heat therapy: Apply a heating pad to painful areas, as this can help relax your muscles.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Carrying extra weight can increase the stress on your joints, particularly the weight-bearing joints like the knees.
- Stretch before physical activity: This can help loosen up stiff joints and reduce your chance of injuring yourself.
- Keep a positive outlook: If you think you have seasonal affective disorder, consider seeing a counselor. Make sure to practice good self-care to boost your spirits.
Should I See a Doctor for Joint Pain?
If you are experiencing new symptoms with your joint, it’s a good idea to set up a consultation with your primary care provider. Your own doctor can refer you to an orthopedic specialist for further help in reducing your joint pain.