If a drop in temperature makes your pain levels soar, you're not alone: many people with chronic pain conditions like arthritis and fibromyalgia find that their symptoms worsen during the winter.
We don’t know exactly why cold weather exacerbates pain but one leading theory blames changes in barometric pressure. As the cold sets in, reduced air pressure causes the tissues within the joints to expand, causing an already inflamed joint to become even more swollen and painful.
Although the link between cold weather and chronic pain is still not fully understood, doctors have developed ways to cope with increased pain in the winter.
Here are five easy tips for fighting cold weather pain:
Rainy, snowy weather may discourage you from getting outside to exercise but that can actually increase your pain and stiffness. Regular physical activity can help you maintain flexible, functioning joints and muscles. Exercise can also improve your mood.
2. Boost Your Mood
Some theories argue that dreary weather results in mood changes that make you more susceptible to pain. Addressing feelings of anxiety and depression could help ameliorate pain.
3. Stay hydrated
Without the warm weather, many people just don't feel as thirsty and forget to drink enough water. That can prevent the body from properly processing waste, making you feel more achy. Try carrying a water bottle and limiting your caffeine intake.
4. Heat Therapy
Beyond bundling up and staying warm, you can use heating pads to soothe sore muscles and joints.
5. Visit Your Chiropractor
Chiropractic adjustments can keep your spine and joint functioning well throughout the winter months. Studies show that chiropractic can alleviate symptoms of osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, migraine, headache, as well as chronic neck and back pain.
A 2011 study suggested that chiropractic adjustments can ease stress hormones, which may help with mood changes tied to cold weather.1 Your chiropractor can also provide recommendations on using heat and exercise therapies for relieving pain.
Finally, remember that cold weather doesn’t mean you have to suffer. Contact our office to see how we can make your winter as pain-free as possible.
1. Ogura, Takeshi and Manabu Tashiro, Mehedi,Shoichi Watanuki, Katsuhiko Shibuya, Keiichiro Yamaguchi, Masatoshi Itoh, Hiroshi Fukuda, Kazuhiko Yanai. Cerebral metabolic changes in men after chiropractic spinal manipulation for neck pain. Alternative Therapies. 2011; 17 (6): 12-17.