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Cold Weather Blues: Winter Joint Pain

Recently, I’ve noticed that with the constant shifting of the weather, there has been an increased number of patients coming in to see me at Living Well Medical in NYC with joint pain problems. It’s not uncommon for me to hear the question, “Why do my joints hurt more in the cold, humid and wet weather?” For that reason, I thought it would make sense to address the issue in a blog post.

cold weather joint pain

Winter weather can cause some serious joint pain

Let’s start with a little basic anatomy. We all know that the body sends and receives the signals that make much of life possible via the nervous system. In general, there are two major types of nerves: sensory nerves and motor nerves. Those of the sensory variety carry data collected by sensory organs and bring it back to the brain for processing. Motor nerves carry signals from the brain to the many muscles of the body to create motion. Throughout the path of nerves, there are terminating points that we often refer to as nerve endings. They are very sensitive and are responsible for the conduction of pain signals, among other things.

When you have a joint injury or degenerative condition like arthritis, as it’s healing, the number of nerve endings in the area of the joint will often increase, resulting in higher sensitivity. Okay, so it’s more sensitive, but so what? The fact is, those same nerve endings are also responsible for perceiving changes in temperature and pressure. So when there’s a big change in pressure like an oncoming storm or a sudden shift in temperature, you are much more acutely aware of it. It’s believed that joints swell with changes in pressure too, causing pain. That’s why your Grandma’s trick knee always seemed to know when it was going to rain!

So what to do we learn from all this? Keep your joints protected and warm in cold or rainy weather. You’ll likely still feel the sting, but it won’t be so bad. And if you have serious problems with arthritis causing even greater pain in the winter months, come in to see us. An individualized treatment plan focuses on the source of your pain, taking a multidisciplinary approach that helps improve results. Using methods like physical therapy, cold laser therapy, and pain management, we help people in pain feel like themselves again. Call us today for more information at (212) 645-8151.

Dr. Shoshany