Painful Joints when its Cold

 Getting colder: Painful Joints when its Cold

How cold weather affects your joints“The weather is changing, I can feel it in my bones”, most of us have heard this old wives tale but is there any truth in it? Research has shown that the refreshing change in weather during winter can actually bring about aches and pains associated with lower temperatures and changes in barometric air pressure.

 

Typically this affects people with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and other arthritic conditions. Most commonly it effects load bearing joints such as the hips and knees, also the shoulders, elbows and hands. It is thought that sensory nerve endings in joints called baroreceptors respond to slight changes in atmospheric pressure. When the barometric pressure changes the amount of fluid in a joint or the pressure inside a joint can fluctuate which stimulates these receptors causing pain. In an arthritic joint these slight changes can have a greater impact as there is less cartilage to provide cushioning. In lower pressures inflammation around joints can also potentially worsen, this will also put pressure on the nerves again causing pain. Steps can be taken to reduce inflammation such as applying hot and cold therapy to the affected area, taking a swim in a nice warm pool could also be beneficial. Osteopaths can use techniques designed to help improve blood circulation to the area and reduce inflammation as well as working directly on muscles and joints to help improve mobility.
Cold weather can also have an impact on our muscles, as the temperature drops there is a decrease in blood supply to our muscles causing them to tighten up. As a muscle tightens up it becomes shorter in length reducing our range of movement, these tightened muscles then become more susceptible to injury! A ‘pulled’ muscle occurs when it is lengthened beyond its comfort zone, micro tears occur within the muscle fibres and sometime the ligaments. This can lead to pain, inflammation and sometimes swelling and redness! Muscle spasm causing a further reduction in range of movement is also very common. Extra care should be taken during the colder months when exercising outdoors to ensure you are properly ‘warmed up’ before exercise.
Osteopaths often see these types of muscular aches, pains and strains especially during the colder months! An initial assessment will need to be made and often these complaints can be treated using manual therapy, careful advice and specific exercises.

Tali Rayner is an osteopath who specialises in sports injuries and medical acupuncture. To book an appointment with her CLICK HERE or call 02072062625.

 

 

Painful Joints when its Cold