How Physical Therapy Can Help Manage Body Pain in Cold Weather

February 8, 2019 5:29 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

You likely grew up hearing your elders say things like, “I can feel that cold in my bones,” or “It’s going to rain soon—my knees are hurting.” Maybe you wondered how the two things could possibly be connected.

Then you get a little older yourself, and the whole business is not quite so mysterious. It’s just pain, and all pain tells us something. It is the knowledge of the body, telling us what is wrong and how to fix it. The solution can be found in understanding the pain itself.

Why does cold cause an increase in body pain?

The increase in body pain from cold has a few known causes:

  • Decreased blood flow: First, cold temperatures slow blood flow and decrease circulation. Blood flow plays an important role in mitigating inflammation. The slower the flow of blood, the more inflammation collects in your pained areas. Areas of arthritis and places in the bone that have broken and healed will especially feel this pain.
  • Tensing muscles: Cold weather and decreased blood flow lead to an additional tensing of the muscles. When this tensing occurs around old injuries, or in muscle groups that are often affected by spasms or pain (such as muscles in the back or abdomen), the discomfort can be intense.
  • Pressure shifts are felt “bone deep”: Finally, changes in weather are announced by shifts in pressure. The older we get, the more sensitive our joints and bones become to these shifts, and the more we truly can feel the weather “in our bones.” This is often felt not just as aches, but as an overall fatigue.

How can physical therapy help alleviate this type of body pain?

It’s clear that cold can complicate body pain, and clear too that our quality of life could be improved by mitigating that pain and the accompanying fatigue.

At our physiotherapy clinic in Napa County, CA, we’ve developed a few techniques we know work:

  • Exercise: Exercise works in a few ways to help with pain. Work out the affected muscle groups, and the muscle groups around them will strengthen those muscles and improve the blood flow to the area both immediately and over the long term.
  • Targeted stretching: Similar to exercise, targeted stretching warms up a particular muscle group and increases blood flow and oxygenation. Additionally, when we consciously stretch and tighten our muscle groups, it’s easier for them to unconsciously loosen on their own. This is a key concept in some forms of meditation.
  • Applied heat and ointments: The point of all these solutions is the same: warm up the area, increase blood flow and decrease inflammation. Using applied heat and ointments—especially when they’re used in addition to stretching and exercise—can really help alleviate body pain in the cold. Physical therapy uses these solutions in a targeted, structured way to immediately alleviate pain and decrease its chronic recurrence.

Schedule physical therapy in Napa County, CA

Focus Forward Wellness & Physical Therapy in Napa County, CA has been serving the area for over 10 years, providing rehabilitation and pain-alleviating therapies to the young and old alike. If you’re looking for a physical therapist who will treat the whole person and not just the pain, call us today!

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