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  • Writer's pictureKate

Can cold weather cause back, knee, or other pain?

As physical therapists, we frequently work with people who suffer from chronic pain. When the weather changes – including colder temperatures or air pressure changes - We frequently have patients asking why the weather seems to influence their pain symptoms.

Can cold weather cause back, knee, or other pain?

The answer to this question is a bit complicated, however, put simply no it cannot cause pain – or at least not in the manner we often associate pain. We often associate pain with damage, so in this sense cold weather does not cause damage. With this being the case, you still may be curious as to why pain seems to flare up with weather changes.

The answer is that your nerves have changed.

Our bodies are incredible in many ways. One of the most interesting and powerful is that our bodies adapt. That adaptation is a large part of what is used in physical therapy to decrease pain, improve function and help you get back to doing the things you love to do. However, sometimes the ways our bodies adapt is not for the best. For example, our nerves begin to change in the case of long term or chronic pain.

Our nerves have many receptors including barorecptors (for air pressure) and thermoreceptors (for temperature). As these receptors become more sensitive or multiply, they send more signals to our brain warning of perceived danger. However, just as these changes can occur they can also be altered back toward normal.

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