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The Science Behind Winter Aches and Pains

Winter is the season in which people try to keep the house as warm as it was in summer – when they complained about the heat.

— Anonymous Author

I’ve had so many patients in the clinic in the last two weeks commenting about how much their aches and pains are bothering them. This made me think it was a good time to give you the science behind these winter aches.

While there is no one definitive answer as to why our joints seem to ache and stiffen up much worse in winter – one theory suggests that barometric pressure is the culprit. As barometric pressure drops it causes our tendons and muscles to expand. We only have limited space in bodies and when this expansion occurs…we experience discomfort. This discomfort can be worse for people with injuries or conditions like arthritis. And if you are experiencing those winter blues…then every ache and pain will feel worse because you are already suffering emotionally.

The wet weather we’ve been experiencing is also a likely candidate for causing joints to hurt more often. The humidity combined with cold temperatures cause joints to swell and stiffen. This is especially true if you have joint injuries.

And now…the inevitable and unwanted reality of winter’s bite…we tend to be much more sedentary in the cold…driven indoors by inclement weather and frigid temperatures. This makes any issues with joints and movement exacerbated and more noticeable. Depressing but true. Get up and move more because you’ll hurt less.

You can also help your joints by dressing warmly and in layers. Keep heating pads or hot water bottles on hand to warm up your sore spots. Instead of sitting for long periods of time, get up and move around. By keeping your blood flowing you are keeping your joints active and they are less likely to stiffen up. Try to keep from gaining extra weight. Extra weight means extra strain on your body which means more potential pain. Eat a balanced, healthy diet which can assist your body with healing and providing muscles with the protein and vitamins needed to stay strong. And finally…sleep well. Sleep is so important because it heals our body and our minds. Never underestimate the power of good sleep.

Winter can be brutal. It can close us in and cut us off from the people we love. But with a little effort and a lot of patience we can enjoy the cold days. Remember – you can’t appreciate spring until you’ve experienced winter!!!

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