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:

Hypermobility

What is hypermobility?
Hypermobility is defined as having an unusually or abnormally large range of movement in a joint or joints. It is effectively the opposite of stiffness (hypomobility).

A lot of people come to see us because of stiffness, so the thought of hypermobility may sound pretty good, but it comes with it’s own host of challenges. Too much movement can be just as problematic as not enough movement!

Is Stretching Good or Bad?

Is stretching good or bad?
Whether stretching is appropriate for you depends on two factors- what type of stretching and when are you doing it?

What is a bulging Disc?

Most people know that their back has discs, but what and where they are is often missed!
Our spine is made up of 33 vertebrae which run from the tail bone to the top of the neck. Each vertebrae is shaped differently to allow for different movements. These regions all work together to help us to move in our daily lives.

Like all the other joints in our body, each vertebrae is strongly wrapped in a complex system of soft tissues such as ligaments, tendons and muscles. In addition to all these structures, there is an intervertebral disc which sits in between each vertebrae.

Concussion Part Two: I think I have a concussion, now what?

In the first part we learnt what a concussion was, in this part we will tell you how to treat yourself in the first 24hours to a week and beyond, and how your local Osteopath can help.

The first rule of a concussion is: if in any doubt or any unusual symptoms appear head to the emergency room at a hospital or to your local general practitioner as soon as possible. This may involve an ambulance, but you can always call Nurse On Call on 1300 60 60 24 to check, which is available 24/7.

Due to the neurological impact of a concussion the first thing to do is to limit sensory inputs such as light, sound and proprioception or reaction time. Take the patient to a dimly lit room, with minimal noise (no TV, or lots of talking) and lay them down with a slightly elevated head.