It’s not your imagination if your joint pain or arthritis flares up in the cold weather. Joints – the spot where bones meet – are lubricated with fluid. Colder temperatures can cause the fluid to thicken, which can cause pain or sensitivity with movement, says the Arthritis Foundation (AF). Arthritis is inflammation of one or more joints, causing pain and stiffness that can worsen with age.
The Weather Channel blames changes in the barometric pressure for increases in joint pain: “Any change in pressure, which is the weight of the air pressing against the surface of the earth, can trigger joint pain in some people.” The nerve endings in various tissues can sense changes in the weather, resulting in joint tightness. Others believe that barometric pressure changes cause expansion and contraction of tendons, muscles, bones, and scar tissue.
The good news is that once the cold front has settled in, pain should even out, says the AF. However, cold-weather pain may also be triggered from decreased activity when people stay sedentary indoors; inactivity leads to more pain as fluids and nutrients aren’t moving and nourishing the tissues.
Arthritis sufferers can take steps to seek a pain-free winter. According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), “Exercise strengthens the muscles around the joint, which ultimately helps to reduce pain. Exercise also releases endorphins, which moderate pain, and helps overweight patients lose weight and reduce the stress on their joints. Excess weight can trigger inflammation which aggravates joints.”
Comfort measures, cites the AF, include applying “two of the simplest, least expensive and most effective pain relief methods: heat and cold treatments. Heat treatments such as heating pads and warm baths tend to work best for soothing stiff joints and tired muscles.” Cold therapy can be helpful too, using ice packs applied to painful areas for 20 minutes at a time.
For more information, contact:
Clarendale of Algonquin
2001 West Algonquin Road
Algonquin, IL 60102