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Frosty Weather Causing Joint Pain? Give It the Deep Freeze

By Sara Butler

Cold Weather and Joint Pain

They say that Frosty the Snowman was a jolly, happy soul. I don’t buy it.

Many people notice that as the temperatures drop, the achiness and pain in their joints increases. This isn’t in your head. Cold weather has a real impact on the joints throughout your body, making them stiff and painful. Here’s what you need to know about joint pain due to cold weather and how the chiropractors at The Joint Chiropractic can help.

What’s the Deal?

Remember how your grandpa could predict a rainstorm with his lumbago? In the winter months, joint pain is caused by some of the same factors at the root of your papaw’s lower back pain -- pressure.

When cold fronts move in, the barometric pressure outside drops. This can cause expansion of the tissues in your joints and cause pain. Of course, barometric pressure isn’t the only culprit. You may also experience winter joint pain due to:

  • Increased sensitivity - If you’ve ever suffered an injury to a joint, cold weather can cause hypersensitive changes due to inflammation and scarring in the joint
  • Increased thickness of fluid in the joint - All of your joints are bathed in a fluid that helps to lubricate them, something called synovial fluid. This fluid works as a shock absorber in the joint, but when it’s cold that fluid can become thicker, making the joints feel stiff and maybe even a little crunchy.
  • Inactivity - When it’s cold outside you may be less inclined to get your body moving. Long periods of inactivity can make joint pain worse and impact joint health.
  • Humidity and cold - Cold weather and high humidity can wreak some serious havoc on your joint cartilage, causing pain.

Which Joints Suffer?

Cold weather can impact any part of your body, but it’s most common in the joints that bear the most weight. The major weight-bearing joints in which you may notice changes are the hips, knees, and ankles. If you’re an outdoor exerciser, you may notice the cold causing problems in these joints since you spend time braving the temperatures outside.

What to Do?

If you notice that the cold is causing an uptick in your joint pain and achiness, there are some solid strategies to address this. You should:

  • Try heat - Of course, if the problem is that your joint is cold, the best thing to do is warm it up! Use a hot compress or a heating pad to help relieve your symptoms and reduce pain.
  • Try ice - Yes, it seems a bit counterintuitive to apply cold to a joint that’s painful because of the cold, but trust us here. Cold compresses can help to reduce swelling, so you may want to consider doing a combination of ice and heat therapy to help your symptoms subside.
  • Use ointment - There’s no shame in smelling like a high school locker room by slapping on a little pain-relieving ointment. Topical creams and ointments can be a great way to help manage pain in the short term.
  • Get moving - Keep your joints strong and limber with a few simple exercises and stretches. As long as you don’t do too much, exercise helps to keep your joints healthy and reduce pain.
  • Visit the chiropractor - Regular visits to the chiropractors at The Joint are a sure-fire way to help you manage joint pain in the winter. They can help to find the root cause of your pain to help you find relief.

Perhaps Frosty figured out what millions of others have -- that regular chiropractic care is key to alleviate joint pain any time of the year. Maybe he was a jolly, happy soul after all.

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