Cold Weather and Joint Pain: Exploring The Connection

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Joint pain can manifest as stiffness, aches, swelling, or uncomfortable heat where two or more bones meet. 
  • Joint pain is more prevalent in older individuals. Some common causes include osteoarthritis, tendonitis, ligament injuries, autoimmune diseases, and gout.
  • Joint pain can worsen after exposure to cold weather, potentially due to constricting nerves and blood vessels, changes in barometric pressure, or physical inactivity.
  • To mitigate joint pain during cold months, dress warmly, eat nutritious foods, stay active, and try heat therapy. Surgical intervention and alternative treatments like pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy are also available.

How Are Cold Weather and Joint Pain Connected?

Joint pain is an uncomfortable, achy, stiff, or inflamed feeling in the area where two or more bones converge. It is most common in older individuals but can result from various ailments, including arthritis, tendonitis, ligament injuries, and autoimmune diseases. 

Unfortunately, many people experience exacerbated joint pain during cold weather. Professionals theorize that this could be from constricted blood vessels and tissues, drops in barometric pressure, or seasonal physical inactivity.

During the winter, try joint pain alleviation strategies like wearing warm clothing, consuming a healthy diet, exercising, and using heat therapy. Depending on the severity of your condition, you may benefit from non-invasive treatments like pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy or surgical intervention.

What Causes Joint Pain?

It is most common to see joint pain in elderly individuals who have worn down the cushioning between their bones. Nevertheless, joint pain can happen to anyone due to numerous conditions, traumas, and lifestyle choices.

Consult a trained medical expert to get an accurate diagnosis and customized care for your condition that can effectively reduce your symptoms. The following conditions are some of the most common roots of joint pain that your medical provider may test for during your screening.


Osteoarthritis can cause joint degradation, which incites changes in the underlying bone structure and sparks joint pain. This type of arthritis is usually brought on by aging and long-term joint wear and tear. Additional risk factors for osteoarthritis include obesity, traumatic injuries, and physical inactivity. You may have this widespread condition if your knees, hands, or hips are stiff and make clicking noises while moving.


Tendonitis is when tendons, the rope-like soft tissue connecting bones to muscles, become inflamed. This condition usually develops from overuse, but other contributors, like calcium deposits, can also spark this ailment. You may have this condition if your shoulder, elbow, knee, wrist, or ankle are unusually swollen, tender, warm, or red.

Ligament Injuries

Damage to ligaments, the connective tissue that secures bones, joints, and organs, can cause joint pain, especially if the injury is located in the knees and ankles. The leading cause of ligament damage is trauma, such as a strong impact from falling or playing a sport. You may have this condition if you are experiencing bruising, muted physical sensations, swelling, or popping sounds in your ankle, knee, wrist, back, neck, or fingers.

Autoimmune Diseases

Many people have a genetic predisposition to certain autoimmune conditions that can cause joint pain, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, which viral infections can trigger. Usually, women in their 20s and 30s are more likely than men to be affected by these conditions. Autoimmune diseases typically cause pain in the smaller joints, like the fingers, wrists, and toes.


Gout, a common and excruciating form of arthritis, can cause a buildup of uric acid in the bloodstream. The acid can seep into tissues, fluids, and joints, forming painful crystals. You may have gout if you are experiencing discomfort, redness, and inflammation in your knee, hand, wrist, or big toe.

Although the conditions above are common contributors to joint pain, another underlying cause may be causing your discomfort—only a qualified medical professional can accurately diagnose your ailment.

Why Does Cold Weather Cause Joint Pain?

Regardless of their condition, exposure to cold weather has resulted in reports of exacerbated joint pain. Unfortunately, there is no conclusive answer to why cold weather heightens joint pain. Still, medical professionals have developed a few plausible theories. The following factors may contribute to your increased joint pain during cold weather.

Constricted Blood Vessels and Tissues

Tissues and blood vessels naturally constrict in colder temperatures to send blood deeper into the body, keeping the core and primary organs, like the brain, warm and oxygenated. This means your extremities, such as your arms and legs, will experience reduced, strained blood flow, which can result in stiffness, inflammation, and increased joint pain.

Drop in Barometric Pressure

Barometric pressure is the force of the air in the atmosphere that weighs down on us. A decrease in barometric pressure can cause your muscles, tendons, and nearby tissues to expand. However, the body is a confined space, meaning that the expansion of its components can impede other functions and put a painful level of stress on your joints, worsening existing discomfort.

Seasonal Physical Inactivity

Historically, people move around and exercise less when it is cold outside. If you are not regularly using your muscles, you could experience atrophy, leading to more pain and less stability because you will not have strong muscles supporting your joints. Plus, exercising increases blood circulation, which can reduce swelling—this is why it is essential to remain active even during the winter, especially if you have joint pain.

Although there is no direct answer to why cold weather aggravates joint pain, the above speculations are some of the most likely reasons. Thankfully, there are several ways to alleviate joint pain during winter.

Overcome Joint Pain with JRCS

Our team of board-certified surgeons and compassionate professionals will create a personalized treatment plan to help you manage joint pain and get back to your daily routine.

How to Alleviate Joint Pain During Cold Weather

There are many practical strategies that you can use to mitigate joint pain when the weather is cold. Each case of joint pain is different, so you may have to try multiple alleviation methods. Some examples of strategies to reduce cold-influenced joint pain are:

  • Dress in warm clothing to compensate for cold weather.
  • Stay active to promote blood flow and minimize inflammation.
  • Remain hydrated to control swelling.
  • Get adequate amounts of sleep to facilitate healing.
  • Eat a balanced, nutrient-rich diet that avoids inflammatory foods.
  • Perform low-impact exercises to maintain joint mobility and strength.
    • Walking, swimming, and yoga can be helpful joint-gentle exercises.
  • Practice stress management techniques that calm your body.
    • Meditation and deep breathing are great ways to relax.
  • Use heat therapy on affected areas to soothe pain and avoid stiffness.
    • Hot baths and showers may help if you don’t have heat therapy devices.

The success of the above methods depends on the severity of the person’s joint condition. Contact a trustworthy joint specialist to build a treatment plan that fits your needs.

When to Consult a Doctor

It is always a good idea to consult a medical provider about joint pain; however, it is even more crucial if you notice specific signs or hindrances. Some examples of reasons to consult a doctor include:

  • You feel consistent joint pain even during warm weather.
  • Your chronic joint pain is decreasing your quality of life.
  • Daily tasks like getting out of bed or into a car are becoming harder.
  • You are unable to engage in activities you love, such as basketball or hiking.
  • Your joint pain negatively impacts your performance at work.
  • Your joint pain hampers your mental health.

If you notice any of the above issues, contact a highly qualified joint specialist as soon as possible to find a treatment plan to reduce pain, regain motion, and achieve a higher quality of life. 

You may be offered non-invasive treatments like pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy. Alternatively, you may need surgical intervention, such as hip or knee surgery. A reliable joint specialist can provide the best path to comfortable, pain-free living.

Find Lasting Relief From Joint Pain

Joint pain can be caused by many different conditions, ranging from osteoarthritis to a ligament tear. No matter its cause, there is a chance that your joint pain worsens during cold months. Although there is no solidified reason for this increase in pain, many medical professionals predict that it is due to the constriction of body parts, a drop in atmospheric pressure, or seasonal inactivity.

To combat weather-worsening joint pain, stay active, healthy, and as warm as possible. If your joint pain is hindering your life or persisting even during warm weather, contact well-educated joint specialists like the ones at The Joint Replacement Center of Scottsdale. We have substantial experience diagnosing and treating joint pain. 

We offer cutting-edge alternative therapies like PEMF and ARPwave, which can reduce mild to moderate joint pain. We also offer minimally invasive surgeries using Mako SmartRobotics to promote quick recovery.

Schedule a consultation to build an individualized treatment plan to address your joint pain effectively.