5 Ways to Avoid Cold Weather-Related Pain

Patients who experience joint, bone, and muscle pain really know what it means to be "under the weather." Many patients experience increased pain and stiffness during cold weather. So, what's the cause of weather-related symptoms and what can you do about it?

There's not a lot of science proving the link between weather and increased pain symptoms but some research demonstrates that increased barometric pressure during stormy weather, plus decreased temperatures during cold months equals more complaints of achy muscles, knees, fingers and other joints. Some scientists theorize that muscles contract to retain heat and others say that increased barometric pressure impacts the synovial fluid surrounding joints. Doctors and patients don't need scientific studies to validate what they know in their bones--when it gets cold, patients hurt. 

What can you do to counteract or prevent cold-weather joint and muscle pain? Try these five tips:

1. Keep your house at a comfortably warm temperature. Consider buying a programmable thermostat. Turn it down at night to conserve energy and program it to start warming the house well before you get out of bed in the morning. Use an electric blanket to stay toasty during the coldest night hours.

2. Layer up. Wearing a few layers will keep your body heat from escaping into the frigid air and will keep your joints warm. Invest in high-quality thermal underwear, fleece layers and down or synthetic down outerwear and don't leave home without them. Put on an extra sweater and socks when you're home.

3. Take a bath. When you're stiff, sore and cold, nothing's more soothing than a warm bath. Add some Epsom salts or bubble bath and enjoy the healing waters.

4. Use hand-warmers and body warmers. Fingers and toes take the brunt of cold weather symptoms because they're the most exposed and farthest from the heart. That means blood has to travel further to warm them. Pick up some charcoal-based warmers or other brand of hand and body warmers. Just open them up, shake them out, wait 15 minutes for them to warm and stuff them in your gloves, pockets, or boots. They stay warm for hours.

5. Exercise and stretch. Start with gentle stretching first thing in the morning, then follow-up with walking-in-place or gentle calisthenics to warm your muscles and get your blood moving. Flex and relax your hands, rotate your feet, wrists and ankles and roll your head from side to side. Make sure you get at least 30-minutes of cardiovascular exercise, like walking, swimming, biking or treadmill every day to increase circulation and heart health.