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How Cold Weather Impacts Joint Pain and How to Help

older woman holding her right shoulder in pain

As the temperature drops, our comfort levels can too. Change in weather (especially when the temperature is changing from hot to cold) can affect your joints and muscles, causing increased pain, weakness, stiffness, and soreness. This can be due to the drop in atmospheric pressure. The decrease in pressure allows tissues in your body to expand, and the expansion can compress your joints, resulting in pain or discomfort.

If you are someone who deals with increasing pain during the winter months, here are some things you can do to help:

Relax in a Hot Tub/Sauna

When you warm up, your blood vessels get bigger, allowing more blood, oxygen, and nutrients to be delivered to your sore or aching joints.

By relaxing in a hot tub or sauna, you get the benefits of both heat therapy and hydrotherapy, allowing for maximum joint pain relief. If you don’t have regular access to a hot tub or sauna, you can soak in a hot bath.

Stay Warm

When you're indoors:

  • keep your heat at a comfortable temperature
  • use heating pads or heating blankets

When you're outdoors:

  • wear warm clothing
  • bundle up, wear many layers if necessary
  • wear gloves and close-toed shoes to keep your hands and feet warm
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    Keep Moving

    One of the best things you can do is to keep moving. I don't know about you, but I hate going out and exercising when it's cold outside. During the winter months, I turn to things I can do inside my own home, like yoga. Yoga is a low-intensity exercise that can help to relieve joint pain and discomfort, especially if done on a regular basis.

    Other things you can do to keep moving inside include walking, practicing balance exercises, dancing, or even just doing chores around the house.

    Drink Water

    People often forget to drink water when it's not hot and humid outside, but staying hydrated is still important in the winter time. Due to the drier air this time of year, you can become dehydrated without even realizing it. Dehydration can lead to an increase in muscle cramping so be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.

    Keep Your Medicine Close

    Getting out of bed is hard enough so to leave your cozy, warm cocoon of a bed just to take your medicine can be especially hard during the winter. Try keeping your medicine by your bedside to save yourself the struggle of fighting with your aching joints the moment you slide out of bed. You can wait for them to kick in while resting for a bit longer.

    **Always consult with a healthcare professional on the best plan for your body and health.

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