Can Cold Weather Increase Your Pain?

The scientific evidence is conflicting; nevertheless, numerous studies find a strong relationship between short, cold, damp days and arthritis flare-ups. Research from Tufts University suggests changes in barometric pressure worsen knee pain in people with arthritis, while  colder temps can cause painful changes in joint fluid thickness. Other studies have shown no or very slight association between pain and weather factors like temperature, humidity, barometric pressure and wind speed.  The strongest evidence points to weather's effect on those with joint conditions like rheumatoid or osteoarthritis

 atients also report an increased incidence of pain in the winter months.  Many people in on-line forums and social media report that damp or cold weather worsens their pain.  One study of 800 Europeans with osteoarthritis found that 67% reported that they feel that weather affects their pain levels. That has certainly been my observation and experience in 34 years of practice.

What can you do to combat increase pain in the colder weather?

Eat Healthy

Load up on foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin C and Vitamin K. Think salmon, nuts, grass fed meats, leafy green vegetables and fruits. Avoid foods high in omega-6 fatty acids, such as corn oil, which may trigger painful inflammation. Also swap refined grains for whole grains. Early research suggests refined grains have an inflammatory effect, whereas high-fiber whole grains may help reduce inflammation.

Take Supplements

Glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin may help by nourishing cartilage and increasing lubrication in your joints. A large-scale study funded by the National Institutes of Health found that a daily combo of 1,500 milligrams of glucosamine and 1,200 milligrams of chondroitin might help ease symptoms in people with moderate-to-severe joint pain.  Also make sure you're getting plenty of vitamin D to help keep your bones strong and prevent joint pain.

Keep Moving

One reason cold weather is linked to joint pain is people are less likely to work out when it's chilly and damp. Being a couch potato is bad news for your joints because exercise helps lubricate them to prevent pain. If  it’s too cold, snowy or rainy outside bring your workout indoors.   Choose low-impact aerobic moves that are easy on joints, such as a walking and yoga or tai chi, which enhance your range of motion. Lifting weights can also help because it builds joint-supporting muscles.

See Your Chiropractor

Spinal and extremity manipulation will increase the mobility of your joints, promote joint lubrication and relieve pain.  Soft tissue mobilization will also decrease muscle soreness or tightness.

For more information about staying pain-free during the winter months contact Northwest Wellness in Federal Way, WA at 2539270660