There are many factors that contribute to joint pain and stiffness, including insufficient movement, vitamin deficiencies, and underlying autoimmune disorders. Another sneaky culprit that impacts joint pain is none other than cold weather, which those of us in the Northern Hemisphere may know all too well right about now.
Keep reading to see what the science says about the weather as it relates to joint pain, plus what you can do to loosen things up.
What the research says.
Many people living with chronic pain will likely tell you that temperature fluctuations impact their discomfort. In one study in the American Journal of Medicine, researchers concluded that knee pain severity in individuals with knee osteoarthritis, for instance, is “modestly influenced by the weather.” An increase in barometric pressure (which happens when the temperature drops) is also associated with greater pain, as is colder ambient temperature, the study found.
Additional research, on the other hand, has questioned these findings, such as a 2016 review in the Journal of General Practice that says, “The evidence to support this common observation is weak; however, some studies have reported a trend towards worsening of pain and stiffness with falling temperature and barometric pressure in arthritic patients.”
The point is, there is definitely an anecdotal and patient-reported association between cold weather and joint pain/stiffness, so if that sounds all too familiar, here’s what to do.
What to do about it
If your joints are feeling stiff due to the cold, one obvious solution, of course, is to warm up. Warm baths with Epsom salts, for example, have been found to reduce knee joint pain in elderly populations.
In addition to keeping warm, ensuring you’re getting enough movement is essential. Strength training is well known to reduce pain and improve the function of joints, while soothing practices like yoga can help keep your body limber and stretched.
You don’t need to wait until you are in pain to see your chiropractor. Chiropractic care is a great way to keep your joints mobile all year long, but in the winter months it can be helpful for reducing pain and discomfort from external sources, such as the weather.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
From a TCM perspective one cause of the joint pain and stiffness felt in the winter is Bi-Syndrome, a reaction to the external pathogens of Wind, Cold (or Heat) and Dampness invading the body and joints. Dr. Peter Wood, our resident doctor of TCM creates custom herbal formulas that provide support throughout the coldest months of the year. He also recommends eating warming foods, ensuring you are getting adequate nutrients and minding any food intolerances that could be contributing to inflammation.
As we get deeper and deeper into the cold months of the year, there’s a chance your joints could feel a bit stiffer and achier than usual. The good news is, with some efficient lifestyle tweaks and a quality supplement, you and your joints can get some relief.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to book an appointment with one of our practitioners. Please note that any advice in this article doesn’t replace personalized medical advice from a professional.