Have you ever noticed that shoulder pain can become much worse during the winter months? It’s not just your imagination. There are valid reasons why your pain worsens in colder months. You may feel increased pain, stiffness, lack of strength, and even impaired mobility in your shoulder. Here is why:
- The barometric pressure in the atmosphere changes in colder weather: This puts less pressure on your body, which causes tissues to expand, therefore, creating joint pain and stiffness.
- Increased sensitivity to cold: If you suffer from arthritis, your joints will most likely be more sensitive to weather changes. There is no conclusive evidence of this, but the reality is that weather seems to increase the pain in patients.
- Increased stress/tension: The fact is that when we are cold we tend to shiver, hunch over, and shrug our shoulders. Doing this repeatedly causes stiffness and tension to settle in our shoulders.
- Inactivity: Cold weather makes most of us want to curl up on the couch and relax. When we are less active, our muscles and joints tend to become stiff. Physical activity boosts the circulation of synovial fluid which acts as a lubricant for our joints. When we are inactive or get cold, this fluid becomes thick and doesn’t move as freely.
If the cold weather is affecting your shoulder pain, there are a few things you can do to provide yourself some relief. Dress warmly so you resist the urge to shiver and hunch forward. Take warm baths and showers, and even utilize a heating pad. Regular exercise can be incredibly helpful for pain and stiffness. Incorporate resistance training, cardio, and stretching to promote blood flow and keep your muscles strong and healthy. Make aconscious effort to relax your shoulders and maintain proper posture throughout the day.
Keep in mind that if your pain worsens or doesn’t go away, it can indicate a serious injury. Call Dr. DiGiulio at Performance Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine to be evaluated and given an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
Milan M. DiGiulio, M.D. offers comprehensive orthopedic care for you and your entire family, specializing in Sports Medicine and arthroscopic surgery of the shoulder and knee. Dr. DiGiulio performs over 200 arthroscopic shoulder and knee surgeries each year, using the most advanced surgical technology. Dr. DiGiulio is an advocate of non-invasive, non-surgical treatment options such as Physical Therapy and Orthobiologics.