Dealing with Arthritic Pain in the Winter by Dr. Daniel Savarino

Dealing with Arthritic Pain in the Winter by Dr. Daniel Savarino

Winter can be a beautiful time of year, with snowflakes, cozy nights by the fire, and holiday cheer. But for many people dealing with arthritis, it can also mean an increase in pain, discomfort and stiffness. As temperatures drop, the symptoms of inflammatory forms of arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis frequently worsen. It’s not your imagination—there are a few reasons why arthritic pain increases when winter hits. Understanding them can help in managing the condition during colder months.

The cold causes blood vessels to constrict, reducing blood circulation to the extremities. With less blood flow, there is less oxygen and fewer nutrients reaching joints and the surrounding tissue. This makes inflammation worse and leads to more irritation and pain around arthritic joints.

Additionally, the low barometric pressure that often accompanies cold snaps can cause joints to swell and stiffen. When temperatures drop, the barometric pressure tends to fall as well. This drop in pressure can cause tissues in the body to expand, putting added pressure on joints. For those already struggling with arthritis, this change can exacerbate inflammation and pain.

Moreover, colder weather often leads to decreased physical activity. People tend to move less and stay indoors more during winter, which can contribute to stiffness in joints. Reduced movement can cause muscles and ligaments to tighten, leading to increased discomfort for arthritis sufferers.

The bottom line is that physiological responses to colder weather conditions directly impact arthritic joints. While you can’t change the temperature or weather, there are things you can do to help minimize and manage arthritic pain during the colder months:

  • Stay active with low-impact exercise routines you can do indoors, like tai chi, yoga, or swimming in a heated pool. Exercise boosts circulation to ease achy joints.
  • Wear layers outdoors so joints stay insulated and warm, especially for hands, wrists, feet, and ankles. Cover up joints prone to arthritic pain.
  • Use electric blankets, heating pads, and hot water bottles to keep joints and muscles warm. Improving blood flow brings relief.
  • Take warm baths and frequently moisturize the skin to prevent painfully dry, cracked skin that can occur in winter.
  • Consider vitamin D supplements since less sun exposure can lead to deficiencies linked to increased inflammation.
  • Stay proactive with prescription arthritis medications, over-the-counter pain relievers, or anti-inflammatory supplements. Don’t let pain get out of control.
  • Use assistive devices like canes or jar openers to reduce strain on sore hand and knee joints.

Understanding the relationship between arthritis and winter can help individuals take proactive steps in managing the condition in colder months. A bit of planning and some adjustments to your self-care routine can help you manage pain, stay active, and keep your arthritis under control all season long.

Dr. Daniel Savarino, DO, is an established and highly skilled physician specializing in sports and regenerative medicine, pain management, anti-aging treatments, and aesthetics. If you are suffering from symptoms related to arthritis, reach out! Complete the patient inquiry form on our website to activate an appointment with one of our Patient Advisors, or call (732) 385-2739. Visit to learn more.

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