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Do you hurt more in cold weather? Perhaps.

Do you hurt more when it’s cold? Perhaps.

When I was younger, one of my close relatives often complained of aches and pains in his back and joints as he got older. One thing I noticed is that his complaints picked up when the seasons changed from summer to fall to winter.

I didn’t make the correlation back then, but today I see anecdotal evidence every year: the advent of colder temperatures often leads to more Americans complaining about pain, from knees to lower back to joints. This is true in Greater Cincinnati or Columbus or Covington. Where we live, moderate temperatures have lulled us into a false sense of security that cold weather would be held at bay, but we know better. Temperatures are now dipping near the freezing point, but they don’t have to go that low to understand pain can feel worse.

Some researchers see a link between a change in barometric pressure and a rise in complaints about joint and back pain. And while we have not been able to discover a definitive link, it’s an issue worth discussion. In my office, we might see a slight uptick in patients seeking pain management solutions during cold-weather months. This is especially true for workers who have to venture out into the weather and some of our older patients.

While I welcome the opportunity to help you manage your pain as cold weather approaches, I have some advice that may help you put off seeing me until another day.

  • First, make sure you take measures to stay warm. That means wearing proper clothing that will keep your joints and other potential problem areas protected.
  • Avoid or decrease eating and drinking foods that can cause inflammation, and drink lots of water.
  • Stay active. During cold-weather months, many of us slow down our fitness regimens. This is a mistake. If you are not actively strengthening your bones and muscles, you may find that you become more susceptible to injuries. If you cannot maintain an outdoor exercise routine such as running or walking, invest in joining a gym or take fitness classes to stay strong and fit and keep you motivated.
  • Before you take part in physical or strenuous activities, be sure to warm up those muscles to avoid injury.
  • Finally, be aware of your surroundings. Often during winter months, I treat patients who have injured themselves by falling on slippery surfaces. Back to the first piece of advice, make sure you wear proper footwear as you go about your daily routines and avoid unnecessary risks.

We know it feels like cold weather seems to lead to complaints of aches and pains in all kinds of places. It’s important to do the things that will mitigate the potential for pain and discomfort, and help you feel better when the mercury drops over the next few months.

Aarti Singla