Does Cold Weather Really Cause Joint Pain? Or is it all in my head?
Does a change in weather really increase joint paint? According to lots of studies and anecdotal research, there are conflicting answers to this question. So is there really anything to this? Or is it all in our heads? We all have/had an older, arthritic relative who could pretty accurately predict the next rain storm, and I know that the creaking I hear in one of my knees every time the weather gets ready to change isn’t my imagination. In fact after a car accident that left me sore for about six weeks, my chiropractor pointed out on a day when I was more sore than usual, that the weather was changing and told me that my increased soreness was not uncommon.
According to an article by Katherine Kam (webmd.com “Does Weather Affect Joint Pain?”), there may be a correlation between weather and joint pain, and that one of the causes of increased pain may not be the weather itself, but the barometric pressure changes associated with changing weather that may be the culprit. Arthritic or injured joints which are already prone to inflammation may be affected by a decrease in barometric pressure that allows more swelling to occur.
There’s also the suggestion that cold weather thickens the fluid within the joints, making movement more painful. An article on weather.com (“Does Cold Weather Cause Joint Pain?”) references a study done at Tufts University that seems to support both the barometric pressure and the fluid thickening theories.
Regardless of conflicting research, if your knee hurts before it rains or you find your joints ache more in the winter, the weather.com article offers the following advice:
- Eat foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins C & K. They also recommend avoiding Omega-6 fatty acids as these may trigger inflammation, and switching from refined to whole grains based on some early research that suggests refined grains may also cause inflammation.
- Look into glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin supplements, and get plenty of vitamin D3. Be sure to speak to your doctor before taking any supplements.
- Try to exercise. Often we don’t get as much exercise during the colder months because, well, it’s too cold to go out and move. But movement helps keep the joints lubricated and will make movement less painful in the long run.
The Webmd article also suggests:
- Speaking to your doctor about increasing arthritis pain medications during the colder months.
- Keep warm in the winter. Dress in layers, keep the house warm, and maybe buy an electric blanket.
- Try to prevent swelling. Warmth will help with pain but may not help with swelling.
- Improve your mood. Chronic pain can lead to anxiety and depression. Learning how to deal with it over the colder winter months can be beneficial.
- Realize that it will get better.
If you’re in a climate where cold weather or year round weather changes make your joints ache, there are a few things that can be done. Eat right, stay warm, keep moving, and remember that spring is right around the corner.
Written by: Tricia Doane, FizzNiche Staff Writer