With Winter fast approaching, the temperature is dropping steadily – especially at night. Cold weather discomfort occurs mainly in the hips, knees and ankles. And many people who usually suffer with joint pain complain that their pain is worse when it’s cold. But why does the cooler temperatures make your aches and pains worse?

Joint pain is worse when it's cold

Scientists have done a lot of research and still aren’t sure exactly why weight-baring joints hurt more when it’s cold, but the main reasons point to restricted blood flow to the joints or changes in pressure.

When the weather is cold, the joints become inflamed due to the change in atmospheric pressure. This can lead to more severe joint pain due to increased nerve sensitivity and poor circulation. The body tries to retain more heat and sends more blood to the organs in the centre of the body, such as the heart, lungs and digestive organs. Consequently, there is less blood flow to the legs, knees, arms, shoulders and other joints. This, in turn, causes the blood vessels at the joints to constrict and the reduced blood flow makes these areas stiffer and colder, which can lead to pain and discomfort.


6 tips to reduce joint pain during colder months? 

  1. Keep warm – layering several warm clothes will help to keep your extremities (arms, hands, knees, feet, etc.) warm. For example, gloves, socks, and thermal underwear.
  2. Do warm-up exercises -Spend five minutes stretching. This reduces stiffness and increases blood flow to your joints.
  3. Use warming aids – hot water bottles, microwavable beanbags, and electric blankets will help keep your sore joints warm.
  4. Don’t stop running suddenly -If you are exercising, don’t stop suddenly. Keep walking so your knee and ankle joints won’t get cold and start to hurt.
  5. Cool down properly -Immediately after exercising, do some stretching to reduce muscle tightening that occurs shortly after prolonged exercise.
  6. Stay indoors on very cold days -If you can, work from home, order groceries online, or exercise indoors.


If none of these tips help relieve your joint pain, there may be an underlying injury or disease and you should consult with a medical professional. The trained therapists at The Back Clinic specialise in helping patients identify the underlying cause of their pain and help them manage and relieve it. You can contact them on 063 097 5603 or via email at info@thebackclinic.co.za

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