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  • Writer's pictureAll In Physical Therapy

Ask A PT- Does weather affect my pain?

The short answer is YES! Changes in weather can affect the body and produce a temporary increase in pain. Research is still working on a direct link to why we may have increase joint pain in the winter months, however, clinically, and physiologically, we do notice this trend with patients, and it is common.

Barometric pressure, the pressure in the atmosphere, will produce a sensation of increased stiffness, pain, and difficulty with movement. There is less air pressure producing loads against the body in the cold months, which allows for muscles, tendons, and other tissues surrounding joints to expand. This extra swelling on the joints provides increased compression, producing pain. This process also translates to scar tissue, that may have built up after surgery or injury. The intensified pressure on the nerves also slows down nerve signals which in turn increases the brain’s perception of pain.

The other trend we see is decreasing mobility in the cold months. MOTION IS LOTION! I know that we have all heard this a time or two in our clinic! Joints need to remain oiled to function with proper mechanics. If we spend more time sitting, and less time up and moving, we lose that fluid in the joint, which causes more stiffness and swelling, which then causes even less movement as it is painful, which again further decreases lubrication……. See the vicious cycle??

This coming winter, be mindful that the changing seasons lead to fluctuating pain. It is best to mitigate this by using layers, staying hydrated, keep moving, and be proactive with your home exercise programs throughout the year!


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