Skip to main content.

5 Ways to Reduce Joint Pain and Stiffness This Winter Season

Posted January 30, 2023 by Joseph Rabe, M.D.

older gentleman holding his knee in pain

Do frigid temperatures cause slow, achy joints that make it difficult for you to get moving? It’s not just your imagination. People living with joint pain related to conditions, such as: arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or fibromyalgia, often report when temperatures drop, their joint pain acts up. 

It’s true, cold weather causes muscles to tense, which can lead to less mobility and flexibility in the joints. Some studies also associate joint pain with changes in barometric pressure. These changes can trigger tendons, muscles and the surrounding tissue to expand and cause decreased mobility, stiffness and pain.

But while the exact cause is unclear, the fact remains that weather-related joint pain that some people feel is still very real. If you get stiff, achy joints in the wintertime, follow Summa Health’s 5 tips to help bring you relief … until we can finally welcome spring once again.

Keep your body temperature consistent: Dress in layers when you go out and make sure to cover areas that are prone to flare-ups. Consider thermal underwear to protect your hips and knees, and insulated gloves to keep your hands and fingers warm. Also, don’t forget warm boots with good tread to prevent falls.  

While in the house, keep yourself warm and cozy by wearing slippers, using an electric blanket and even taking a warm bath. Warm water can help soothe aching joints, as well as the muscles surrounding them.

Keep moving: Regular exercise builds up muscle and bone strength to help protect your joints. It also promotes better mobility by keeping your joints and muscles from becoming too stiff. Unfortunately, inactivity leads to decreased range of motion and even more joint pain.

Yoga, swimming and an exercise bike are great workouts that are easy on the joints. If you do exercise outdoors, be sure to dress appropriately and stretch afterwards.

Maintain your weight: The holidays can bring about many indulgences, plus when it’s cold and blustery outside, the couch and warm blanket beckon. Pair these situations together, and you get weight gain. Even a small amount of weight gain, just five pounds, puts added stress on already painful joints.

It’s important to eat a balanced diet chock full of fruits and veggies, and lean proteins to ward off weight gain and promote joint health. Not only does it help keep your weight in check, but it also ensures your joints are getting the vitamins and minerals they need to stay strong.

If you’re experiencing achy joints, try incorporating foods that naturally contain anti-inflammatory properties, such as avocado, nuts, berries, garlic and oily fish, to help keep pain at bay. In addition, avoid unhealthy choices, such as processed foods, which can cause inflammation.

Stay hydrated: Hydration is important, especially during the dry winter months. Remember, just because you’re not hot and sweaty doesn’t mean that you’re not losing fluids. Dry air can cause you to lose moisture through your skin and breath. Dehydration can increase sensitivity to aches and pain, reduce joint fluid and lubrication, and cause muscle cramping.

Be sure to drink plenty of fluids, including water, naturally flavored water or fruit juice. You can even get your hydration from warm soup or flavored teas.

Be proactive: If you do start to feel joint pain, apply heating pads to help relax your muscles. Just be mindful and avoid prolonged use of heating pads, which can cause injury or burns.

You also can take pain relievers or anti-inflammatories to ease your symptoms. Talk to your doctor about which pain relievers are right for you and your condition.

Winter’s frigid temps are a fact of life, especially in Northeast Ohio. But, there are things you can do to reduce the comfort brought on by the cold to keep you moving throughout the season.

If you’re struggling with chronic joint pain and swelling, contact Summa Health’s orthopedic specialists at 330.375.3000 or schedule an appointment online.

About the Author

Joseph Rabe, M.D.

Vitality eNews Sign Up

Receive the Summa Health eNewsletter for the latest health tips, advice and updates.

Related Blogs

View all Flourish Blogs

Torn Rotator Cuff? Try These 4 Non-Surgical Treatments That Really Work

Do you feel a dull ache deep in your shoulder that worsens at night or with particular arm movements? Do you have weakness when lifting or rotating your arm above your head? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you might be dealing with a torn rotator cuff.

The rotator cuff is a series of muscles and tendons that keeps the shoulder joint stable, while allowing the arm to rotate. Rotator cuff injuries are very common and increase with age. Injury, degeneration or…

Putting Your Best Foot Forward This Summer

As the weather gets warmer, more and more people will be outside participating in a range of summer activities, from sports to hikes and even gardening. While this is certainly good for your health, summer can also lead to a number of foot and ankle injuries.

Ankle Sprains

A sprained ankle occurs when the ankle rolls towards the outside of the foot, most often during physical activity, and it is one of the most common foot injuries. While a mild sprain is often nothing to…

Sports Injury? Check Out 5 Non-Surgical Treatments That Offer Quicker Recoveries

A sports injury can be scary, especially if you're facing surgery that could keep you sidelined for weeks, if not months.

Fortunately, surgery isn't always the best option when you suffer an injury from playing a sport, exercising, or participating in recreational activities. A wide range of non-surgical treatments are available today that effectively treat muscle pain, joint pain, and lack of mobility. 

A sports injury encompasses the musculoskeletal system, including…

Treatment Options for a Lumbar Herniated Disc [Podcast]

Pain and symptoms from a spinal lumbar herniated disc can be easily mistaken by patients. Summa Health neurosurgeon Dr. Paul Hartzfeld answers some of the most commonly asked questions about treatment for lumbar herniated disc.

How Strong Are Your Bones? Get the Facts on Osteoporosis

How strong are your bones? You may have no idea until you break one doing some mundane activity, such as bumping into furniture, coughing or sneezing.

Osteoporosisis a bone disease that occurs when your body breaks down more bone than it creates. Bone is living tissue that is constantly broken down and replaced. The disease causes your bones to become weak and brittle, and breaking a bone doing seemingly ordinary activities is typically the first sign of osteoporosis.…

Total Joint Replacement Trends: Technology Advances Are Increasing Surgical Rates and Patient Satisfaction

Do you have a bad hip? Achy knees? If you’re suffering from chronic joint pain, a total joint replacement can provide you with a better quality of life that includes less pain, improved motion and strength that you require for an active lifestyle.

Cartilage in joints naturally protects the bones from rubbing together. But when cartilage deteriorates due to injury, aging or disease, such as arthritis or obesity, bones begin rubbing together while in motion. This results…

Shoulder Pain: Causes, Injuries, and Treatment [Podcast]

Dr. Ryan Urchek gives an overview of shoulder pain from common causes, injuries, and treatment options.

An Overview of Osteoporosis: Prevention to Treatment [Podcast]

Natalie Hiltbrand, an Osteoporosis Specialist at Summa Health, leads a discussion on osteoporosis treatment, as well as prevention.

Pelvic health 101: 6 common vulvar disorders

When women experience pain or discomfort in their pelvic region, many times their first thought is the dreaded yeast infection. That’s not a surprise because most women — as many as 75 percent — will be diagnosed at least once with a vaginal yeast infection during their lifetimes.

However, there are vulvar disorders other than yeast —  that can cause similar symptoms, including redness and swelling, intense itching, discolored discharge, blisters…

Addressing Common Pelvic Health Issues [Podcast]

Dr. Megan Cesta and senior physical therapist Amy Senn discuss common pelvic health issues women may experience.

Pain Relief After Total Joint Replacement Surgery: Reducing the Need for Narcotics and Opioids [Podcast]

Healthy VitalsDr. Kiel Pfefferle discusses how Summa Health is moving away from opioids and narcotics as the primary pain relief after joint replacement surgery.

FAQ: Partial knee replacement surgery

If you’re like one in five Americans, you’ll eventually develop arthritis of the knee. This means the cartilage that cushions the bones of your knee begins to degrade, causing those bones to painfully rub together. When that pain becomes too much or restricts activities you once enjoyed, it’s time to talk to your doctor about treatment, including knee replacement surgery.

What’s the difference between a partial and a total knee replacement?


Does Weather Affect Joint Pain?

Have you ever heard from someone that they can predict when a storm is coming because their joints hurt? It’s pretty common for people to blame joint pain flare-ups on changes on the weather, but scientists and doctors have yet to pinpoint exactly what it is about cold, rainy, or humid weather that makes joints stiff and achy.

Leading Theories

While joint pain isn’t directly correlated with dropping temperatures, the thought is that the change in barometric pressure…

Plantar Fasciitis – It’s Not Just For Runners

If you are a runner, chances are you’ve heard of plantar fasciitis. It’s one of the most common causes of heel pain. However, any job or activity where you are on your feet for long periods of time can put you at risk as well.

An introduction to plantar fasciitis

A thick band of tissue - plantar fascia - connects your heel bone to your toes. This tissue acts as a shock-absorber on the feet. If tension and stress start to cause small tears, this ribbon-like tissue…

Osteoporosis: Don't Be Broken

6 Proactive Simple Steps You Can Take

Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which the bones become weak and brittle. Osteoporosis is a disease in which there is an increased risk of fracturing a bone from a non-traumatic fall or even simple actions such as sneezing.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 54 million Americans have osteoporosis or low bone mass. Studies also show that 50% of women and 25% of men around age 50 are at risk for breaking a bone secondary to…


Options to Request an Appointment

If your situation is an emergency, call 911.