Cold and pain
Does the temperature really affect your pain levels?
If you suffer from chronic pain, anecdotal evidence shows that you’re more likely to suffer pain from conditions such as osteoarthritis when the temperature drops.
There is no research conclusively explaining why chronic pain gets worse when it gets colder, but various studies suggest that it might be caused by a number of factors:
- Lack of exercise. During the cold, dark days of winter, we tend to exercise less. This is particularly bad for people with arthritis – as the weaker the muscles and supporting tissues around your joint, the more pressure goes on your damaged bones.
- Lower temperature. Coldness can cause tissues to contract, putting pressure on your nerves. Scar tissue contracts at a different rate, meaning you are more likely to get pain at the site of an injury.
- Pressure. When air pressure drops, it causes the gases and fluids in your joints to expand, which can press on surrounding nerves and cause pain.
- Vitamin D. Sunlight provides Vitamin D which helps strengthen your bones and improves the symptoms of osteoarthritis. The colder weather and shorter days of winter make it harder to get as much natural Vitamin D.
The solution? Keep warm, stretch and exercise as much as you can. Indoor swimming and exercising in your home or a gym are the best ways to keep warm and make sure you maintain your strength and joint mobility.
Most people find that hot baths help to reduce the symptoms of cold-related flare-ups, and Vitamin D supplements can help keep your bones healthy during winter.