Studies have proven that knee pain worsens during cold weather. Pain in the legs, especially if a person has previous knee injuries or arthritis, can be detrimental during winter and affect one’s overall health.
Causes of Knee Pain in Cold Weather
Winter’s cold weather leads to many health problems, including body pain in the hips, knees, and ankles. The pain tends to occur, especially if you run, as you put more pressure on weight-bearing joints. Some causes for joint pain are described below:
Some studies suggest a connection between air pressure and knee pain symptoms. Barometric pressure is the air mass weighing down on you, also known as atmospheric pressure. In opposition to the high barometric pressure during warm weather, the cold leads to the barometric pressure dropping. When the barometric pressure drops, the tissues in your body respond by expanding, which can cause joint pain. The lessened pressure of the atmosphere on your body leads to your tendons, muscles, joints, or scar tissue swelling, leading to joint pain. This swelling presses onto the nerves surrounding the tissue and causes pain.
The barometric pressure changes with shifts in weather, especially quick changes, which can worsen one’s knee pain. However, barometric pressure changes are considered the primary factor contributing to winter knee pains.
Changes in Joint Fluid
The fluid between your joints, known as joint or synovial fluid, acts as a cushion. Its main job is to absorb shocks and impacts and allow for fluid movement of the joints. Generally, it is of the consistency of egg whites. The dropping temperature due to the cold may lead to its thickening. This thickened fluid leads to inhibition of movement. As a result of which, knee joints become stiff or ‘creaky,’ which can lead to pain.
Overall, people are inactive during winter times, as the cold weather can often be unpleasant. Studies have proven this a bad strategy when considering knee joint pain.
The cold weather and high humidity levels can also worsen joint pain. Studies have not discovered the exact reason for this phenomenon. However, they suggest that the combined factor influences the cellular structures of bone and cartilage, resulting in a feeling of expansion and contraction, which causes unpleasant pressure.
SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
Changes in season can alter a person’s mood and bring on a form of depression known as SAD. Negative altered moods bring along with their feelings of sadness and depression, which alters your perception of pain. Negative moods can change the intensity, and the amount of pain one feels.
Circulation and Tightened Muscles
The cold weather alters the amount of blood allocated to certain body parts to keep you warm. For example, the normal blood flow to your knees can get allocated to vital organs like the heart and lungs. This takes the warmth away from your joints which makes them hurt more.
The cold also leads to your muscles tightening up, making you less flexible. In turn, this makes you more prone to getting sore or injured.
Vitamin D is made when you are exposed to sunlight and is highlighted as especially important in bone and muscle health. A theory suggests that a lack of vitamin D can worsen knee joint pain in cold weather. In colder countries in the cold weather, sunlight is not easily available. While in warmer countries, a person may wish to not leave their cozy homes in the cold, both of which make a person fall short of the necessary vitamin D needed.
How to Avoid Knee Pain in Winter?
1. Stay warm – Using electric blankets, wearing proper warm clothes, and warming the car and house are ways to keep warm that reduce joint pain from the cold weather. Dressing in layers, including hats, scarves, and gloves. Tights, leggings, knee supports, and wraps can be conducive to keeping your joints warm. A warm bath can help loosen your muscles, increase flexibility and boost circulation. Stay indoors, where you can be warm.
2. Stay active – It is important to stay at least mildly active, even during cold weather, to prevent joint pain from inactivity. Some simple stretches, along with yoga or pilates, can help.
3. Improve mood – Mood affects pain tolerance. A person’s psychological resilience and, thus, psychological well-being impact one’s ability to tolerate pain. When one improves their mood and tries to stay positive, it can help with their joint pain. Additionally, to manage one’s mood, one needs to eat healthily and get a healthy amount of sleep.
4. Recommendations from doctors – Consider meeting a doctor. According to their recommendations, take pain medication to manage joint pain, and only take medication as prescribed by your doctor.
5. Manage swelling – Swelling is one of the main symptoms of most knee injuries. That also causes pain. Compression bands and knee braces can reduce swelling and improve stability.
6. Sleep well – Decreased sleep can worsen your pain, so getting enough sleep is necessary.
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