Why Joints Hurt More in Cold Weather Than Hot?
Posted on 4th December 2020
Joint pain is the discomfort, pain or inflammation in or surrounding a joint, usually triggered by a previous injury or arthritis. All ages can be affected by joint pain, even children. According to the NHS, arthritis and other similar joint related conditions impact over 10 million people in the UK.
So, does the weather have an effect on my joints?
There have been numerous studies surrounding the relationship between joint pain and temperature, with a variety of evidence-based studies conflicting with each other. However, on a subjective level, people typically believe that change in the weather does have an effect on their joint pain, often feeling a change in their pain before rain or the cold weather occurs.
Interestingly, there is a theory that it is not in fact the weather itself that causes an increase in joint pain, but the change of barometric pressure which is associated with the change of the weather. Barometric pressure is the weight of the atmosphere that surrounds us. The pressure often drops before a spell of bad weather or rises just before we have good weather. Lower air pressure pushes less against our bodies and the joints, enabling tissues to expand and as a result creating more pressure on the joints. Essentially this causes greater inflammation which is not good for arthritic or injured joints as they are already prone to inflammation.
Another theory is that the synovial fluid; a thick liquid that is located between your joints to absorb shock and reduce friction, gets thicker as the cold weather emerges and subsequently creates a stiff/crunchy sensation.
3 Key Tips to Minimise Joint Pain from the Cold!
It sounds like we are contradicting ourselves after explaining the negative effect of cold weather on the joints! But we tend to do less exercise and physical activity in the winter months and in order to minimise joint pain it is fundamental to keep the joints moving. By doing so it enables them to stay lubricated and above all strengthen the surrounding muscles to encourage joint support.
Staying active also improves circulation and can help boost your mood. Obviously, this doesn’t have to be done outside, there is always indoor activities available e.g. swimming, group exercise classes or even walking around a shopping centre- there you go, perfect excuse to go shopping! (If you needed one).
It sounds quite obvious. To minimise the impact of cold weather on your joints, try to stay warm! Trapping in body heat to keep you warm by wearing clothes such as thick jumpers, base layers and hats are all ways that we can keep our joints warm and minimise the chance of pain. For example, if you suffer from arthritic hands/fingers, gloves should be your best friend during cold weather! As we all know, our hands and fingers in particular are small and can get cold very quickly. By using gloves, you can minimise the synovial fluid theory coming into play!
A Balanced Diet
So, you’re probably thinking, how does your diet have anything to do with your joints? Research has shown several links between dieting and arthritis, here we want to talk about the two common factors we believe are the most important and overlooked.
Firstly, weight. It might sound obvious, but the heavier we are the greater the strain that goes through our joints, subsequently causing wear and tear and aiding arthritis. Being overweight is commonly overlooked as one of the biggest factors causing arthritis and joint pain, by consequently having a balanced diet we can lose weight and help ease the pressure from our joints.
Secondly, vitamins and minerals are a natural way to encourage relief and strengthen joint areas. Cooking a healthy hearty meal as a part of balanced diet is a great way to throw together lots of vitamins and minerals. Foods such as fruit and veg, meat such as chicken and red meat, oily fish and nuts and seeds are all great sources of vitamins and minerals to help aid joint recovery and keep the bones, within and surrounding the joint, strong.
A personal recommendation of mine; Invest in a slow cooker, you can throw so much good food in here and even the worst cooks can cook up a banging stew or homemade soup using one!
It’s quite clear that regardless of conflicting research, if you suffer from joint pain, cold weather doesn’t help! Our bodies endure a great deal of everyday wear and tear and can often cause discomfort in heavily used joints such as knees and hips. Joint pain can be helped, give us a call or book in to see how we can help you!
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