Yes, the chilly season of fall can trigger pain in your joints, especially your knees and can flare up if you are weather-sensitive and have the condition of chronic joint disorders, such as arthritis.
We often complain about joint aches during winter. In fact, the feeling of muscle stiffness even makes us hate winters. Then, we can only imagine the extent of discomfort in joints for the people living with arthritis, isn’t it?
In a survey published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, out of 712 people with Osteoarthritis (OA), 469 (67%) of them said winters made their knees hurt.
Some of the scientific researches state that the following are the causes of knee pain in cold weather;
Barometric pressure changes
Compared to the summers, a drop in barometric (atmospheric) pressure can make the joints hurt badly. It is because when the weather is damp and cold, the tissues in our joints expand, putting more pressure on our nerves that control pain signals. It is due to this our joints feel weak during winters.
Increased nerve sensitivity
Our nerves start to misbehave due to the freeze outside. They become extremely hypersensitive to the change in temperature. The pain signals travelling along nerves from a joint are amplified in the brain by signals carried on separate nerves called sympathetic nerves, which are a part of the body’s system for maintaining its internal functioning without us having to think about it.
During winters, these nerves constrict blood vessels in the limbs, to minimise heat loss and help keep the core of the body where vital organs are, warm. But, due to the cold weather, the nerves around joints become very much active, leading to an increase in the pain a person feels.
Joint fluid thickness
Cold weather increases the thickness of the shock absorber within our joint, synovial fluid, making it lose some of its lubrication properties. Due to its increased viscosity, the fluid may not flow freely resulting in stiff and creaking joints.
Cold & humidity
High levels of humidity can harm bone and cartilage cells, making our bones to ache in the cold weather
The cosy and lazy feeling of winter prevents us from getting out and doing any kind of physical activity. And such long periods of inactivity affects our joint health.
Knee Pain Remedies
To survive the cold weather pain-free, you can try the following methods for knee pain relief;
1. Keep yourself warm. Wrap some extra woolen clothes around your painful joints
2. Wear knee bands or braces to reduce swelling and improve stability in the knee
3. Take hot water baths
4. Stay active indoors. Stretch, exercise, move around, perform yoga
5. Soak in the morning sunlight for some Vitamin D
6. Drink water and eat healthily
7. Use electrotherapy devices for knee pain treatment at home
Read more about the knee joint pain relief measures in detail here.
Joint aches in cold weather are painful, but you must not let it take over you. Keep your spirits up, take care of yourself and enjoy the beautiful season of Winter!