Can You Feel Better When Cold, Wet Weather Aches Your Joints?

February 19, 2019

Runner tending to injured ankle joint while in cold weather
Vicki Shanta Retelny, RDN

Do you have achy joints when it's damp and cold outside? For many people, joint health in cold weather is a real concern. There is evidence to show that joint health and daily weather conditions are related: High humidity in colder weather has a stronger effect on joint pain. Those suffering from joint diseases report getting relief when in climates with high barometric pressure, relative low humidity and high temperatures. Therefore, it's important to take care of your joints to avoid aches and pains during the winter months.

Barometric pressure — the atmospheric weight that surrounds us — may play a role in how your joints feel on a day-to-day basis. When barometric pressure is high during the warm months, it pushes on the tissues surrounding the joints keeping them from expanding, but in the cold weather when the barometric pressure drops, the tissues expand and put pressure on the joints causing pain and discomfort. Therefore, cold weather can be a concern for those with joint conditions. The good news is that your body will acclimate to barometric pressure changes over time, so understand that it is not permanent, and small adjustments in your lifestyle can make a big difference.

Remedies for Aching Joints in Cold Weather

Exercise Can Help

You don't have to suffer from painful joints in the winter — you can alleviate the pain by moving your joints to warm them up prior to going out into the cold. Stretching out your arms and legs, walking in place or climbing stairs can relieve joint stiffness and aches. Exercise can keep your muscles and surrounding tissue strong, which contributes to joint health over the long term.

Stay Warm

To counteract the damp, cold weather, keep the heat turned on at home and in the office. Try using a heating pad or weighted blanket to keep your muscles and joints warm. You can use a heating pad, wear layers or warm your clothes in the dryer prior to getting dressed.

Reset Your Mindset

Keeping an upbeat, positive mood to boost your joint health in cold weather is important. By keeping your mind and body active, the pain will not overwhelm you. Get outside, be social with friends or take a class to help alleviate stress, depression and anxiety that may be a result of achy joints.

Work and Rest Well

While you work, be sure to sit in a comfortable position or stand at your desk in a good stance with an anti-fatigue mat and insoles in your shoes to support your joints. Take regular, brief work breaks to stretch and move your joints to relieve stress. Aim to get good quality sleep for least seven to nine hours a night. Be sure you have a comfortable mattress to alleviate stiff and painful joints when you wake up. If you are a side sleeper, putting a pillow between your legs can help balance your body weight while you sleep.

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