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Why Does My Neck Pain Feel Worse in Winter?

If you’ve noticed that your neck pain is often worse in winter, you might wonder if you’re imagining it.  It isn’t just your imagination – there are scientific reasons behind this seasonal discomfort. 

Read on as Dr. Dustin Hamoy, DPT, MTC, DNC, CKTP, CWCHP explains why neck pain can be worse in the winter and what we can do to help with neck pain here at Precision Laser Joint and Spine Pain Center.

1. Cold weather can make your muscles contract more

Imagine your neck muscles tensing up as the temperature drops. Cold weather often leads to muscle constriction, loss of heat, and reduced blood flow. All of this together can exacerbate your existing muscle-related neck pain.

2. Cold weather can affect the fluid in your neck joints

Cold weather doesn’t just affect your muscles; it also impacts the fluid in your joints. About 67.2% of people with osteoarthritis report that weather changes, including cold weather, make their joint pain worse. The cold winter temperatures can cause the synovial fluid in your joints to thicken and become more viscous. This can reduce the fluids’ mobility in your joint and impact the function of your joint.

3. You might change your posture

In an attempt to shield yourself from the cold, you might huddle and adopt suboptimal postures. Whether it's burrowing your neck in your shoulders or slouching to conserve warmth, these habits can strain your neck muscles and contribute to increased pain.

4. You might not exercise as much

Winter often brings a decrease in physical activity 一 at least outdoor activities! The reluctance to venture outdoors for a walk or engage in regular exercise can contribute to muscle stiffness and reduced flexibility, both of which can contribute to neck pain.

Tip: You don’t need to go outside or even to the gym to stay active. You can do neck stretches in your living room or even while sitting on your couch. You can also follow along with yoga or other stretching videos online. 

5. Winter air is dry

Indoor heating systems during winter tend to dry out the air and potentially lead to dehydration. Though you might associate this with nothing more than dry skin, the reality is that if you aren’t getting enough water, your muscles may suffer. Dehydrated muscles are more prone to cramping and stiffness, which can manifest as neck pain. 

Find relief from neck pain in the winter

Although you can’t do anything about the weather, you can do things to help keep neck pain at bay:

Even with these at-home remedies, you may still need help managing neck pain. Depending on the root cause of your neck pain, Dr. Hamoy may recommend multiwave locked system (MLS®) laser therapy (ASA Laser), physical therapy,  and lifestyle modifications.

Questions? To learn more about your neck pain treatment options in Glen Burnie, Maryland, give us a call at 659-204-5737. Or,  click here to request an appointment.

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