How Cooler Weather Affects Chronic pain

Does cold weather worsen your pain? You’re not alone. Although various studies have shown no or very slight associations between pain and weather factors like temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, and wind speed,  patient  experiences  tell  a  different  story.  Many people report that damp or cold weather worsens their pain. One study of 800 Europeans with osteoarthritis found that 67% reported that they feel the weather affects their pain levels. 

1427391059856In another small but fascinating study, those who had osteoarthritis reported a greater sensitivity to cold and pressure than control subjects without arthritis—even when parts of the body not affected by arthritis were tested. This suggests to the study authors that chronic pain may alter the way nerves respond to stimuli and increase their  sensitivity.2

If the cold makes your pain worse, try incorporating heat therapy into your daily routine. Heat therapy decreases stiffness and promotes healing through increased  circulation.

Here are a few ideas for adding heat to your routine:

  • Apply a hot pack, warm towel, or heating pad to the painful Simply doing this for 20 minutes at a time may be enough for temporary pain relief.
  • Use over-the-counter heat Available in most grocery stores and pharmacies, heat wraps can provide warmth for joint-relate
  • Try water therapy. You may experience pain relief by swimming in a heated indoor pool a few times per week, or by soaking a whirlpool or hot
  • Stay active. It can be tempting to hibernate during the colder months, but inactivity can increase some types of pain. If you prefer to stay inside, consider getting a treadmill—you can walk while you watch TV or a movie.