When temperatures drop, do you suffer from aches and pains?

It happens to many of us.

The effect of cold weather on joint pain has been discussed and studied in the scientific community for years, however, the exact reason some suffer is still unclear.

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It’s unclear because there is no one explanation for why dropping temperatures affect your joints. One theory relates to drops in barometric pressure, which causes tendons, muscles and the surrounding tissues to expand. Because of the confined space within the body, this can cause pain, especially in joints affected by arthritis.

Everyone’s body reacts to fluctuating barometric pressure. But if you have arthritis or chronic pain, you are more vulnerable to feeling discomfort.

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Also, if you are sad or depressed, bad weather can further affect your mood. The perception of pain can be magnified.

The effects of low temperatures are fairly universal to all the muscles in your body: they become tighter and tenser. So joint pain could be attributed to tension.

From our knees, shoulders and hips to our hands and our feet, all of our joints contain a thick substance called “synovial fluid.” The purpose of this fluid is to lubricate, allowing our joints to operate smoothly.

One theory is that colder temperatures can cause this joint fluid to thicken, limiting joint movement.

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Others think barometric pressure is the potential catalyst. Air pressure tends to drop significantly just before a change in the weather, causing a decrease in overall pressure against your body. The tissue inside your body is now allowed to expand, potentially placing pressure on your joints and exacerbating pain.

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So here is what you can do…

1. Maintain a healthy weight.

Weight puts pressure on your joints. Too much pressure can cause strain and discomfort.

2. Eat well.

A balanced diet that includes lean protein, fats and fiber can reduce aches in your joints. Avoid unhealthy choices, such as processed foods, that cause inflammation.

3. Stay active.

An active lifestyle can impact your overall health. Even a simple walk can help keep your joints healthy.

4. Stay warm in the winter.

Protect your joints from the cold by dressing warm. Wear layers. Warm muscles mean they are elastic and ready for activity.

5. Get stronger.

It’s a good idea to do exercises that strengthen your muscles, tendons and bones. More strength leads to less joint pain.