Why Colder Weather Increases Pain in the Knees and Other Joints

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Have you ever noticed that when the weather becomes colder, your joint pain becomes worse? You’re not imagining it; this is a problem that’s shared by many people. While worsened knee pain is particularly common in colder weather, low temperatures can impact pain in any of your body’s joints. 

Why Colder Weather Can Increase Pain

There are many reasons why colder weather could worsen pain in the joints, including:

  • Reduced barometric pressure

The most common theory as to why colder weather worsens joint pain relates to barometric pressure. When temperatures drop, barometric pressure, which is the measure of atmospheric pressure, also typically drops. As a result, less pressure from the air is exerted on the body, which causes the tissues and fluids within the joints to expand. For many people, this results in swelling and pain. 

  • Increased nerve sensitivity

For people with chronic joint pain, often due to arthritis, the drop in barometric pressure that often occurs with colder weather can lead to increased nerve sensitivity. With less cartilage to cushion the joints, the nerves are more exposed in people with arthritis, and they may be further affected by temperature changes. 

  • Expansion and contraction

When dropping temperatures are coupled with increasing humidity, it can cause expansion and contraction within the bone and cartilage of a joint. This sensation creates pressure in the joint that can cause increased pain. 

  • Less physical activity

When it’s cold outside, people are typically less motivated to stay active. They tend to stay indoors more than they would when it’s warm outside. As a result, joints may become stiffer and more painful. 

If you’re experiencing persistent joint pain, schedule an appointment at Hernando Orthopaedic & Spinal Surgery to learn about the treatment options available to you.