How does the cold affect my joints?

Call us now on 01302 969 501
Posted on 26 January 2023

With the winter weather firmly upon us, you may have started to experience pain, tenderness and stiffness in your joints. You may find it harder to carry out tasks such as getting dressed, cleaning your home and cooking without feeling discomfort. At Thorne Road Chiropractors in Doncaster, we tend to see more people suffering from joint problems at this time of year. If you’re wondering “How does the cold affect my joints?”, read on. 

What effect does the cold weather have on joints?

According to a study carried out by Tufts University, for every 10-degree temperature drop, arthritis sufferers experience an increase in joint pain and stiffness. This can be extremely uncomfortable, with the discomfort and reduction in movement of your joints sometimes making it hard to carry out normal daily activities. 

Common types of joint pain that get worse in cold weather include knee pain, shoulder pain, hip pain, foot pain, including your ankle and toes, hand pain, including your wrist and fingers, elbow pain and neck pain. You might feel pain in 1 joint, or more than 1 joint at the same time, such as your knees and hips.

Why does the cold cause joint pain and stiffness?

Although there’s no commonly accepted scientific reason for this, there are a few factors that could be to blame. Some possible reasons for the cold causing joint pain and stiffness can be found below. 

  • Barometric pressure changes. One theory of why cold weather affects joints is that the drop in barometric pressure causes the muscles, tendons and surrounding tissues to contract and expand. As they do this, this causes pain in the joints. 
  • Thickening of joint fluid. Synovial fluid is the shock-absorbing fluid found inside the joint. This fluid is usually the consistency of egg whites to allow for proper joint movement. However, in lower temperatures, the synovial fluid becomes thicker, impeding its ability to flow freely. This leads to the joints becoming stiff or “creaky”. 
  • Increased nerve sensitivity. Scarring, inflammation and adhesions can cause the nerves to become extremely sensitive in cold weather. This often leads to joint pain in the winter months. Increased nerve sensitivity is most commonly seen in people with current or past joint injuries. 
  • High humidity. When low temperatures are accompanied by high humidity, this can worsen joint pain. Whilst the exact reason for this isn’t known, some experts believe that high humidity can damage bone and cartilage cells. 
  • Low activity levels. Many people are less active during the winter months. Since joint conditions tend to respond well to regular exercise and stretching, long periods of inactivity can lead to joint pain. 
  • Low mood. Many people suffer from low moods during the winter months. This is often due to the cold and bleak weather conditions. This can lead to decreased pain tolerance levels, particularly in the joints. The perception of pain can be magnified, sometimes considerably. 

How can I stop joint pain in winter?

There are a few things you can do to lower your risk of joint pain during the winter months. The first step to take is to dress in layers to keep warm. This can help to ease the shock of low temperatures on your body. You should also try to avoid placing unnecessary stress and stress on your joints during your normal daily activities. At the same time, try to remain active both indoors and outdoors. This can help to keep your joints healthy in winter. Before going outside, stretch to loosen up stiff joints. Over time, you should aim to build up your muscle and bone strength through gentle exercise. 

How can a chiropractor help with joint problems 

Visiting a chiropractor is highly recommended if you’re suffering from joint pain and stiffness. They may gently manipulate the soft tissue to stop muscle spasms and relieve tenderness. Alternatively, they may use active exercises or traction in order to slowly stretch the joints and increase their range of motion. There are a number of techniques chiropractors can use to help with joint problems. These include:

  • High-velocity low-amplitude spinal manipulation therapy (HVLA SMT). This “adjustment” is most associated with chiropractic care. It involves the chiropractor gently pushing a joint, usually on your spine, beyond its usual range of motion using one or more quick and forceful thrusts.
  • Joint mobilisation. This involves the joint being gently worked through its natural range of motion. The chiropractor will aim to find the location where movement is restricted.
  • Stretching and massage.
  • Heat or cold therapy.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). The TENS device sends a mild electrical pulse to your muscles and nerves. 
  • Ultrasound. Soundwaves can sometimes help to relieve pain and swelling in the joints and soft tissues.
  • Low-level laser. A low-level laser that doesn’t produce heat can also help to reduce swelling.

Find a local chiropractor 

If you’re looking for chiropractic clinics in Doncaster, look no further than Thorne Road Chiropractic Clinic. We are one of the leading chiropractors in the area, helping many people with joint problems to live happier, pain-free lives. We’ve built up a great reputation throughout South Yorkshire over the years, becoming renowned for our unrivalled knowledge and compassion along with our competitive prices.

Contact us

If you’re still wondering “How does the cold affect my joints?”, get in touch today. We’re on hand to tell you more about the effect of cold weather on your joints and why they might be causing you discomfort during the winter months. Call us on 01302 969 501 to talk to one of our friendly team. Alternatively, send us a message via our website and we will get back to you as soon as we can with the answers to your questions.

Need Help Now? Call us now to make an appointment on 01302 969 501