Why do we hurt in Winter?

Why do we hurt when it gets cold? Does the cold weather “get into our bones”? Or does winter stir up arthritis?

In this blog we explore reasons that you might feel more stiff and sore in the colder months!

As Osteopaths, we’re consistenly discussing pain and stiffness with people. We notice a pattern every year, of our vague, niggly, annoying, aches and pains ramping up around July. 

Contrary to common belief, cold weather doesn’t worsen inflammation, or “get into your bones”. Winter weather is also not a cause of arthritis.

That’s not to say that some of us don’t have a tendency to feel more sore when we get cold. 
The hypothesized reasons for this, are the culmination of:

  • An increase in sedentary behaviours, and decrease in incidental exercise. This allows our muscles to slightly decondition (weaken) meaning they have less capacity for our day to day tasks. A lack of movement can also cause a sensation of stiffness in our joints, in part because the lubrication naturally found in our joints (synovial fluid) is stimulated by movement. 
  • muscular guarding and bracing when we feel cold (ie, “tensing up” when we feel a cold wind)
  • A decrease in social interaction – we often become less social when the weather is poor, and science has found a significant link between pain and feelings of isolation. 
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder and other causes of low mood – In winter, especially in Melbourne, the days become short and we avoid going outside. A phenomenon known as Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression experienced in the winter months, hypothesized to be related to a lack of sunlight. Other symptoms of SADS include malaise and lethargy, which contribute to our sedentary behaviours. 
    Depression, low mood and anxiety have all been linked to an increase in pain levels. 
  • Cold sensitivity – some people with nerve pain can have a special type of nerve sensitivity called “cold Allodynia” whereby their affected nerves interpret the feeling of cold as pain instead.

So what can be done? In most instances of increased pain during the winter months, movement is your friend. This might not be a walk in the bracing wind, but it could instead be yoga in your living room. 
Be extra mindful of incorporating movement into your day – take the stairs instead of the lift, do some starjumps on your lunch break, dig out the stationary bike hiding in the back of your shed. 

Where possible, try and maintain social connections and exposure to sunlight – doona days might be tempting, but too many can make you feel worse. 

And if your pain is bothering you, have a chat to our Osteopaths for advice on how to ease your pain and enjoy a comfortable winter!

We’re happy to answer any questions you might have, please email us if you need any advice! info@chadstoneregionosteo.com.au

Share:

More Posts:

Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex Injury

The triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) is located on the ulna (little finger) side of the wrist. It is triangular in shape and is made up of several ligaments and cartilage that help support the wrist. It acts as a shock absorber and stabilizer for the wrist bones during twisting movements.

Shingles

Shingles is a viral infection that is caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox virus. It causes a painful blistering rash that may be seen as a stripe or belt-like pattern along one side of the body or face. 

How to help acute injuries?

We all got taught RICE, that is to rest, ice, compress and elevate. With new research RICE has now been slowly changing to POLICE. This is for any sporting injuries, falls, car accidents or accidents at home, to provide quick care when an ambulance is not needed.

Femoroacetabular Impingement

A femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) or Hip Impingement, is a condition whereby an extra bone grows along one or both sides of the bones that form your hip joint; head of femur (top of thighbone) and acetabulum (pelvis). This causes abnormal contact between them which leads to the hip joint not fitting together properly. This causes the bones to rub together and reduce mobility. Over time, this can result in damage to the tissues lining the joint (labrum) and surrounding cartilage, leading to either tears or arthritis.