- The temperature inside our muscles and joints changes much less even in frigid weather and is unlikely to be a direct cause of our pain.
- Exercise is very effective for joint pain, which can greatly contribute to people’s perception that symptoms improve in hot weather and worsen in cold weather.
- Many people generally find themselves sad and not optimistic during the winter months. This can be another factor in people’s symptoms, as mood can have a significant impact on pain.
We are in the midst of a damp and cold Kenyan “winter”. The temperature has been low for almost a month. We see a lot of patients every week and one of the most frequently asked questions at this time of the year is “Why does the cold climate make my pain worse?”
Many patients feel that the cold climate exacerbates joint and muscle pain, especially knees, lower back and lower back. Let’s take a look at some of the science and evidence to explain this phenomenon and give some tips on how to deal with it.
The body has very efficient insulation. Our skin and subcutaneous fat layer protect the tissues and organs of the body from temperature changes. Insulation is so effective that the temperature of the inner core of our body changes to very small levels, even at very extreme external temperatures. This is to protect the cells of the body that can survive only in a relatively narrow temperature range.
Does cold weather damage my muscles and joints?
The temperature of our limbs (arms and legs) can vary more than our core. However, the depth of joints such as the knees and hips and the warmth created by muscle activity mean that these joints are rarely injured directly from the cold. Almost all cases of direct tissue damage from extreme cold are on the toes and fingers (and nose) and can be dangerously cold in extreme weather without proper protective clothing. The temperature inside our muscles and joints changes much less even in frigid weather and is unlikely to be a direct cause of our pain.
Studies monitoring temperature changes in body tissues just 1 cm below the surface of the skin have shown that the temperature changes after long-term retention of ice on the surface of the skin are negligible (less than 4c). Masu (Malanga 2015)
Does low temperature cause pain?
In addition to this argument, if outside temperature is the direct cause of pain, higher levels of musculoskeletal pain are reported in colder countries and lower levels are expected in warmer climate countries. Studies on the global epidemic of pain show that Australia, the United States, Spain and Mexico have the highest overall pain reporting levels, while in cool climate countries such as Norway, Finland, Poland and the United Kingdom. The reported pain levels have been shown to be significantly lower overall (GSK Global Pain Index 2017 Global Research Report).
So what about the cold, which can exacerbate our pain?
Many hypotheses have been put forward.
Cold weather weakens people’s activities.
We know that people are generally much more active during hot weather. Bright evenings and mornings mean that people are much more likely to go out and exercise. We spend much more time outside, so everyone tends to have a higher level of activity. We know that exercise is very effective for joint pain, which can greatly contribute to people’s perception that symptoms improve in hot weather and worsen in cold weather. ..
We know that weather and sunlight levels can have a significant impact on our mood. In most extreme cases, people can suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This means that you suffer from depression during the colder months.
But without this, many find themselves happier and optimistic during the summer and generally sad and less optimistic during the winter. We know that mood can have a significant impact on pain. Therefore, this can be another factor in people’s symptoms.
Why does the cold weather make my pain worse?
https://www.businessdailyafrica.com/bd/lifestyle/health-fitness/why-does-the-cold-weather-make-my-pain-severer–3498020 Why does the cold weather make my pain worse?