Does Cold Weather Affect Joint Pain?

Why do my joints hurt when it’s cold?

You may have noticed that your joint pain gets worse in cold weather, or when it is raining outside. This is not in your head. You are not imaging this. It has to do with the change in barometric pressure in the air. When temperature falls outside, or when it is raining, the level of barometric pressure drops and can increase joint pain.

This decrease in the level of barometric pressure may not only affect joint, but it can cause your bones to ache more in cold weather. You may also notice an increase in muscle pain. These can be the effects that you feel if you have not been diagnosed with a joint, muscle, or bone condition, however the cold weather will most prominently have worsening pain effects in those with osteoarthritis.

One theory as to why these weather changes affect joint pain is expansion and contraction of tissues, another theory suggests that lower temperatures may contribute to a thickening of fluids within the joint, making them stiffer.

In both weather conditions, the barometric pressure in the air falls due to slower moving molecules in the air, hence more air pressure is pushing down on you. Warmer temperatures speed up the movement of air molecules and causes them to rise, resulting in less pressure bearing down you.

Does weather really affect arthritis?

The weather affects arthritis, but only in levels of pain. Harsh weather will not influence or worsen the disease itself, but you may feel it more. The drop in pressure in the air can cause you to feel more uncomfortable, making it harder to move around.

The actual arthritis will not worsen, and you will feel better once the barometric pressure in the air rises again. It is hard to generalize exactly what level of barometric pressure causes joint pain to increase across the board. The change is pressure and how it affects you will be unique to you.


What helps joint pain in cold weather?

There are some tips that can be helpful to you if you experience increased pain due to changes in the weather.

  • Stay warm. Wear warm socks and layers of clothing. Dial up the heat in your home and hunker down for a day or two. Stay inside, avoiding the change in pressure you will expose yourself to when going outside in cold or rainy weather.
  • Your doctor may advise you to take or increase if you are already taking an NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
  • Maintain a healthy weight and stay active as much as possible. Gentle exercise such as yoga or Tai Chi can be greatly beneficial for osteoarthritis.
  • Try not to place excess stress on your joints. Lifting heavy boxes can wait until a warmer day.
  • Consider trying a paraffin bath or using a heating pad.
  • Ensure that you are eating a proper diet, getting good nutrition and nourishment.
  • Get enough sleep. And make sure that the sleep you are getting is restful, leaving you feeling refreshed in the morning.

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