‘Tis the Season: Preventing Joint Pain in Cold Weather

  • December 17, 2018
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  • ORI Blog
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  • Orthopedics Rhode Island

Winter’s arrival brings fun, festivities… and frigid weather. As the temperature drops many people with conditions like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus report increased joint pain and stiffness.

Though researchers are still learning about the relationship between cold weather and joint pain, some studies suggest theories on how the two are linked:

  • Pressure. The changes in barometric pressure that cause winter storms might also expand joint tissues and increase pressure in the synovial fluid around your joints, resulting in discomfort.
  • Circulation. The blood vessels in your extremities constrict in lower temperatures. This can decrease circulation, especially in your hands and feet, which might cause pain.
  • Spasms. In cold weather, muscle spasms around the joints affected by painful conditions are more likely.

Ortho Rhode Island’s pain management specialists offer treatments for chronic pain, including physical therapy, medications, injections, and interventional procedures. But there are plenty of ways to keep your own joints more comfortable during cold weather. Here are some tips to help warm up your winter:

  • Heat your body. Heat stimulates blood flow and reduces the likelihood of muscle spasms. Apply warm wet cloths, heat pads and patches, drink warm liquids, or even heat your hands and feet in warm paraffin wax.
  • Heat your environment. You’re only as warm as your surroundings. Outfit your bed with an electric blanket, warm up your car in advance of a drive, use a heated swimming pool, soak in a warm bath or hot tub, or relax in a steamy sauna.
  • Stay active. Don’t let cold weather make you sedentary. Exercise a few hours a week, and practice gentle daily stretching that helps keep muscles and ligaments flexible, while lubricating joints with synovial fluid.

By taking these simple steps, you can help prevent joint pain in cold weather, and make winter the most wonderful time of the year. To learn more and connect with Ortho Rhode Island’s orthopedic specialists, please call 401-777-7000 or visit our website. And don’t forgot to stay warm!