As cold temperatures continue to grip New Jersey and the surrounding area, many of us have noticed that our chronic pain is worsening. In fact, it’s a common thread for people who live in places where winters can be harsh — and frigidly cold.
But is this phenomenon based on any scientific evidence? Is there a precise reason for experiencing worsened pain when the temperatures and pressure drop?
Is Chronic Pain Really Worse in the Winter?
There are some scientific studies that have documented a strong correlation between a cold environment and increased bodily pain — especially in the joints.
One such study measured pain in outdoor construction workers and found that workers were much more likely to experience worsened low back and neck pain in colder temperatures. Other studies have examined the effect that a drop in barometric pressure may have on joint pain.
But while doctors and experts go back and forth on the matter, few professionals will state the connection as fact. Cold-weather-associated chronic pain is not a scientifically-proven phenomenon. There’s no firm evidence that the two have anything to do with each other.
Still, it can’t be denied that anecdotally, many of the cases of chronic pain Bayonne, Hoboken, and Jersey City residents experience are unequivocally exacerbated by cold temperatures. We hear this often at The Spine & Sports Health Center, and it’s talked about frequently on social media and medical forums online.
In particular, the weather exacerbates pain Jersey City residents and others experience when they have one of the following conditions:
Osteoarthritis usually affects the hips, spine, knees, and hands. It is caused by the gradual deterioration and roughening of the cartilage that cushions the ends of joints and bones.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system begins to attack the body, targeting healthy tissue that lines the joints. The result is damage to this tissue, inflammation, and other various symptoms, including overall fatigue and bodily pain.
Sciatica is pain associated with the sciatic nerve, a long nerve running from your lower back down through both the left and right hips, buttocks, legs, and feet. Sciatic pain is often triggered by a herniated disk, spinal stenosis, or bone spurs.
Tips for Improving Pain Related to Cold Weather
Whether scientific evidence backs up the correlation or not, if cold-related pain Bayonne residents are experiencing is keeping them from carrying out everyday activities and enjoying life, there are options for care.
First, here are several steps you can take at home to improve cold weather-related pain:
1. Try Heat Therapy
At home, apply a warm towel, heating pad, or hot pack to the affected area. 20 minutes should be enough time to provide relief.
2. Dress for the Weather
Many cases of the cold-related pain Hoboken residents experience can be traced back to not dressing appropriately for the weather. Always wear proper hats, gloves, boots, and winter coats when it’s cold. Cover your neck and face as well.
Finally, remember that often, you have to go above and beyond the “one-layer” items you typically wear. Fabrics and materials like wool, down feathers, and thick fleece provide the best warmth for outdoor wear, and even then, sometimes double or triple layering is necessary.
3. Run a Warm Bath
Warm baths can help heat up your body and provide pain relief on a regular basis. Hot showers can help as well, but often the full immersion of a bath or Jacuzzi is even better.
4. Stay Active
Many types of pain are exacerbated by inactivity. Even if it’s just walking indoors at the mall or using a stationary bike or stretching at home, continuing to move daily can reduce overall cold-related pain.
5. Seek Professional Help if Necessary
If the above at-home steps haven’t helped relieve pain, it’s important to seek professional attention. Not all chronic pain Hoboken residents experience will be related to the cold. In some cases, your chronic pain may have simply corresponded with the cold weather, and a medical issue is the underlying cause.
At The Spine & Sports Health Center, there are several steps we can take to help diagnose and alleviate your pain — whether it’s related to the weather or not.
We offer the most advanced, cutting-edge alternatives to orthopedic surgery in the form of injections and minimally-invasive procedures, on an outpatient basis. Each treatment plan is designed specifically for the individual and carried out with extreme precision and care for the most effective, lasting results, without surgery.
This traditional Chinese healing treatment uses small, sterile needles to relax muscles, stimulate the release of endorphins in the brain (feel-good hormones), and ultimately dull pain.
Often, physical therapy can be especially beneficial for reducing pain and minimizing the advancement of arthritis. Practices such as passive stretching, electrical and ultrasound stimulation, soft tissue massage, and myofascial release and technology can improve pain and increase strength and flexibility to better everyday well-being.
Contact The Spine & Sports Health Center for Your Cold-Related Pain Issues
If you’ve been experiencing the cold-related chronic pain Jersey City residents often do in the winter months, The Spine & Sports Health Center can help. To learn more about our treatment options, contact us today by calling 201.535.2474 or get in touch with us online.