Why Do My Knees Hurt More In the Winter and What Can I Do About It?

The Cold Temps can Make your Joints Hurt More

It’s that time of year again – frigid temps, winter storms, and snow piled high. On top of that, you may be noticing an increase in your knee pain as compared to the warmer months.

Coincidence? Not completely.

There are reasons why you may be feeling an increase in knee pain during the wintertime. The purpose of this blog is to explain why that happens as well as ways to combat that nagging pain.  

What are the possible causes as to why joint pain may increase during colder weather? This has been studied with different theories arising: 

Air Pressure

With cold fronts, barometric pressure usually drops. That means there is less pressure on your body from the atmosphere, which can lead to increased swelling and pain. 

Joint Fluid Changes

It has been studied that potentially during the colder months, the fluid that lubricates your joints may thicken leading to increased stiffness and pain. 

Circulation and Blood Flow

It is natural in the cold for blood to get re-routed to your core to better support vital organs. This is a normal response for the body however it pulls blood and warmth away from joints, which can make them ache more. 

Poor Flexibility

Cold weather makes muscles tighten up and feel less ‘loose.’ A decrease in flexibility can lead to increased stiffness.

Decrease in Vitamin D

It is natural in the cold for blood to get re-routed to your core to better support vital organs. This is a normal response for the body however it pulls blood and warmth away from joints, which can make them ache more. 

Mood Changes

It’s no secret that in this area of the country, long winters can take a toll on our mood. The increase in darkness, decreased time outside, and what sometimes feels like a never-ending winter season can all lead to feelings consistent with seasonal affective disorder. A decrease in mood, it can lead to an increase in pain or other unwanted symptoms.  

So, what can you do to combat all of the above points?

Listed below are some tips to decrease knee pain.

Dress Warm

Try to keep as much warmth throughout the body as possible. This keeps us from feeling less stiff and keeps good blood flow to the joints.

Warm Bath or Shower

This has similar effects to dressing warm.

Stay Active

For multiple reasons, staying active can be very beneficial to helping with joint pain. It can keep joints lubricated, keep muscles warm, increase circulation/blood flow, and improve mood – all great for keeping pain at a minimum! 

Take a Vitamin D Supplement

Most of us do not get enough vitamin D in the wintertime. Taking a good, quality vitamin D supplement can be helpful during the months when sun exposure is sparse.

Get Adequate Sleep

Getting good, quality sleep is so underrated. When we are tired or running on minimal sleep, we tend to experience increased pain 

Eat Nourishing Foods

Food is medicine. Making sure you nourish yourself with colorful, whole, nutrient-dense foods can help keep inflammation and pain at a minimum. 

Unsure of where/how to start with your knee pain?

Call Apex Physical Therapy and Wellness Center to set up an appointment to get you going on the right track! 

Ready to start therapy? 

If you’re ready to start therapy to get your life back, contact us today and book your first session.

Written by:

Doctor of Physical Therapy, Board Certified Pelvic Rehabilitation Practitioner

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