Top Tips for Tackling Cold-Weather Aches and Pains

Top Tips for Tackling Cold-Weather Aches and Pains

As we move into the colder fall and winter months, many of the estimated 7.63 million Canadians who live with chronic pain may notice increased stiffness in their joints and a worsening of their aches and pains. But what causes pain to get worse in the winter? And what can we do about it?

Why does cold weather make pain worse?

It’s not fully understood why people experience increased pain during the fall and winter, however, it’s probably down to several reasons.

Atmospheric pressure drops during the colder months which may cause muscles, tendons, and the surrounding tissue to expand. This pressure can lead to increased pain, especially in joints already affected by arthritis.

Another potential cause of achy joints in the winter is because the cold weather can affect blood circulation, leading to muscle spasms. It may also cause joint fluid to become thicker, making them stiffer.

The next possible cause is lifestyle related. During the colder months we tend to stay inside more often and move less. Since regular physical activity can help reduce chronic pain, not moving as much can have the opposite effect.

The final reason you may experience worse pain during the colder seasons, could be due to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a form of depression that’s brought on by the lack of sunlight during the winter months. People suffering from depression may experience higher levels of pain than those who don’t, so SAD could be contributing to your seasonal aches and pains.

How can I combat cold-weather aches and pains?

As with chronic pain that you experience year-round, there are a lot of techniques that you can try out to help reduce your aches and pains throughout the colder months.

Keep warm

Since the cold weather can make you feel achier, try combatting it by keeping warm. Make sure you’ve got a proper winter coat, hat, gloves, and a scarf. You might also consider thermal underwear to keep you extra snug. If you’re conscious of heating costs, investing in a fleece blanket and a hot water bottle to use at home is a good idea.

Get moving

During the colder months it can be tempting to stay indoors more and as a result we tend to lead more sedentary lives than in the summer. However, exercise can do wonders for chronic pain by keeping joints flexible and muscles strong and supportive. So, aim to include physical activity into your routine. If it’s too cold outside, you might consider joining a gym or doing an online fitness class at home. It’s a good idea to do a mixture of cardiovascular, weight training, and flexibility exercises.

Take care of your mental health

It’s been shown that tackling the symptoms of depression, including seasonal affective disorder, can help with chronic pain. Of course, there are many different tactics that you can explore to improve your mental health, including physical activity, meditation, and counselling. You can check out our blog post on taking care of your mind during the winter for more advice. If you’re suffering from severe depression, it’s important to see your health care provider for professional advice.

Try out TENS

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a type of therapy in which a low voltage electrical current is delivered via electrodes placed on the skin. It’s believed that TENS helps with pain by either blocking the transmission of pain signals or by releasing endorphins – the brain’s feel-good chemical and a natural pain reliever. If you’re interested in trying out TENS, we offer a range of devices for you to explore.

For many Canadians, the darker, colder months are their least favourite time of year. However, by tackling your cold-weather aches and pains, we hope your winter days become a little brighter.


The information presented in this blog post is designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information in this post as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for professional counseling care. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.



Let’s stay in touch!

Sign up to receive the latest health & wellness guidance, offers, and product information delivered right to your inbox from Wellwise by Shoppers™. If you are a PC Optimum™ member, please provide the same email address that is associated with your account.

By providing your email address, you consent to receiving electronic communications from Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. You may withdraw your consent at any time.

Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. 243 Consumers Rd., Toronto, Ontario, M2J 4W8

Our privacy policy:

Thank you for signing up!

Keep an eye on your inbox for exclusive offers, and information on the latest products.