Does Cold Weather Cause Joint Pain?

cold weather joint pain

This Winter, Contact Mid-America Orthopedics for Help with Cold Weather-Related Pain Management

Winter is coming to Wichita, which means breaking out the heavy coats out of storage and making time in the morning to shovel the walkway before it turns to ice. Although we haven’t had our first freeze just yet, it’s always a good idea to start thinking about what weather-related challenges winter will bring.

As the days shift to colder temperatures, many people find themselves facing an ongoing annoyance – joint pain. Whether you suffer from chronic joint issues or sporadic discomfort, cold weather can exacerbate these problems.

In this blog, we’ll explain why cold weather affects joints and offer strategies for pain management during the winter months. Some cases require the expertise of an orthopedic doctor to address the root cause of the issue.

Why Does Cold Weather Impact the Joints?

The human body is hardwired to demonstrate certain physiological responses during specific scenarios. For example, your pupils will dilate when navigating a darkened space to allow light in. Conversely, when exposed to bright light, the pupils will narrow.

Physical stimuli can cause numerous physiological responses. In the case of extremely cold weather, it has been known to cause the following:

  • Constriction of blood vessels: Cold temperatures cause blood vessels to constrict, reducing blood flow to tendons and muscles. This reduced circulation can affect joints, making them prone to discomfort and stiffness.
  • Changes in barometric pressure: Research has shown that some people are more sensitive to changes in barometric pressure than others, which is a common occurrence during the winter months. These shifts can lead to joint pain, particularly in individuals with conditions like arthritis.
  • Nerve sensitivity: Sensitive nerves are common among individuals who have experienced a joint issue in the past or who currently have one. Cold weather can greatly affect hypersensitive nerves, resulting in ongoing joint pain and stiffness.

Mitigating Winter-Related Joint Pain

While you can’t control the weather in Wichita, there are some steps you can take to help mitigate feelings of pain and discomfort in your joints, including:

  • Staying warm: Layer clothing to trap heat and keep your body warm. Use heated blankets, heating packs, and thermal gloves and socks to protect your extremities from the cold. Set your thermostat to a comfortable temperature.
  • Staying active: Engage in regular low-impact exercises like walking, cycling, swimming, or yoga to keep joints flexible, promote circulation, and reduce stiffness. Stretch daily to maintain joint mobility and alleviate tension. Maintaining a healthy weight helps keep additional pressure off the knees, hips, and ankles.
  • Staying hydrated: Proper hydration helps lubricate the joints, reducing friction and discomfort. Mayo Clinic recommends about 2.7 liters of water per day for women and 3.7 liters per day for men.
  • Using assistive devices: Joint support devices like splints, braces, and compression sleeves can help with pain management and provide stability. Speak with your orthopedic doctor at Mid-America Orthopedics about which assistive devices are right for you.
  • Using over-the-counter (OTC) medications: OTC meds can provide temporary joint pain relief and reduce inflammation. Be sure to use only as recommended, and ask your doctor for their recommendations if you’re unsure.

When to Consult an Orthopedic Doctor

For some, winter weather-related joint pain is a minor annoyance they can deal with. For others, it can make walking, performing chores, and other everyday activities feel unbearable. If you fall into the latter group, you should explore your treatment options with a physician who is experienced in these matters.

The physicians at Mid-America Orthopedics have decades of combined experience working with local Wichita residents to overcome joint pain and discomfort. Plus, if you ever need to find an orthopedic surgeon near you, our practice features some of the most experienced doctors in the area, specializing in arthroscopic surgery and joint replacement surgery.

The best way to get started on your path to joint pain relief is by scheduling a consultation with one of our physicians at Mid-America Orthopedics. During your initial appointment, your doctor will collect some medical background information, examine your affected joints, and may order some additional tests, such as an X-ray or an MRI.

After your physician determines the root cause of your joint pain, they will put you on an individualized treatment plan that prioritizes pain management and the relief of your symptoms. Call us at (316) 630-9300 to schedule an appointment. We can also be reached via email using the contact form on our website.