​Does Cold Weather Make Chronic Pain Worse?

Mar 02, 2021

Given the frigid temperatures that we just recently experienced, I for one am grateful that temperatures sub-zero are not the norm here in the Denver metro area. And with the drop in temperature, we see a lot more people coming in with flare ups of their chronic condition, especially those that suffer from arthritis, sciatica, and fibromyalgia. Here are some reasons as to why:

Decreased movement: As the temperatures drop, we tend to spend more time indoors. With this, our activity levels tend to drop and our muscles and joints become less flexible and stiffer. To combat this, we recommend putting on your favorite exercise video or YouTube fitness class. Even better if you have home exercise equipment like an elliptical machine or treadmill (these are not just for hanging clothes off of).

More strain: If you are brave enough to venture out in the cold, chances are the activities that you are participating in are tougher on your muscles and joints. Skiing, snowboarding, sledding all can definitely increase aches and pains, especially if you are not used to the activity. Shoveling is another activity that can stress joints. Make sure to warm-up before doing these activities to avoid an acute injury.

Barometric pressure: A drop in barometric pressure results in tissues, muscles, and tendons expanding. This expansion can increase pressure on your nerves and joints, ultimately triggering pain. Changes in humidity can also cause pain—research has demonstrated patients with osteoarthritis have more pain and stiffness on cold days with high humidity.

Excess weight: Many of us tend to put on a few pounds in the winter—from family gatherings, to holidays, to decreased activity. As we have discussed in previous posts, a few extra pounds can definitely increase stress on your spine and joints.

If you are noticing more pain during these winter months, call our office today to see one of our chiropractors, our physical therapist, and our nurse practitioner. Working together, we can get you out on your next (chilly) adventure!