There’s a chill in the air and the days are shorter—that means winter is upon us. For many people in Canada, this means that it’s time to dust of the old snow boots and stock up on coffee and hot chocolate. For others, it means aching knees and joints.
A lot of people complain about an increase in joint pain during winter. And while the scientific evidence linking the weather to joint pain is conflicting, a study by Tuft University suggests that fluctuations in barometric pressure can cause arthritis flare-ups and worsen knee pain.
Research shows that even a 10-degree drop in the temperature can trigger an incremental increase in pain for people with joint issues such as arthritis or traumatic injuries.
Factors That Cause Knee Pain in Winter
A flare-up of arthritis or knee pain in cold weather can be linked to multiple factors. These include:
Changes in The Barometric Pressure:
The weight of the air around us changes with the weather. This is called barometric pressure. At the onset of cold weather, barometric pressure drops, causing the fluids and gases within the joints to expand.
This creates added pressure on the nerves and surrounding tissues, resulting in painful conditions.
Joint Fluid Thickness:
There is natural fluid around our joints that acts as a shock absorber in case of an impact during running or climbing. In cold weather, the fluid tends to thicken, which prevents it from flowing freely. This causes stiffness in the joints and a reduced ability to absorb shock leading to pain.
In winter, our body goes through multiple temperature fluctuations as we go in and out of the heated homes to the cold outdoors.
The combination of high levels of humidity and the cold winds can damage the cellular structure of the bones and cartilage causing pain in the joints.
Strategies for Pain Relief in Cold Weather
Some strategies can help you prevent stiffness and pain in the joints. Here’s what you can do:
Keep Yourself Warm
Now we aren’t talking about hibernating under heated blankets for the entire winter, but it helps to keep yourself warm enough. Dress appropriately when you go out and take regular warm showers to encourage the flow of joint liquid.
Winter can lead to laziness and reduced activities. This can further exacerbate stiffness in the joints and increase joint pain. Stay active by going for regular walks, doing daily stretches, and eating healthy foods.
Get Physiotherapy for Your Joints
If you feel that the stiffness is getting worse and is accompanied by painful swelling, you should get expert orthopedic treatment to help you manage the painful condition. Regular physiotherapy sessions during winter can help reduce stiffness in the joints and encourage healthy bone and tissue development.
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Sports & Exercise Medicine Institute offers expert assistance from leading orthopedic doctors and physiotherapists in Toronto. The premier sports medicine and physiotherapy clinic provides specialized physiotherapy and orthopedic diagnoses and treatments to help manage arthritis and other painful conditions.
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