Health

Why is knee pain worse in winter? Myths and facts

Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.[1] A variety of definitions have been used for different purposes over time. Health can be promoted by encouraging healthful activities, such as regular physical exercise and adequate sleep,[2] and by reducing or avoiding unhealthful activities or situations, such as smoking or excessive stress. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in a high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. Still other factors are beyond both individual and group choices, such as genetic disorders.

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Do your knee and joint pains feel worse in winter? Well, don’t blame the season because knee pain in winter is shrouded in myths. Read on to know!

Do you find it difficult to squat? Is it difficult for you to run fast? Do you feel pain in your knees? Can you feel the stiffness in your joints? If your answer is YES, you may be struggling with joint or knee problems. As the mercury drops and the chil sets in, all of a sudden one may develop uncomfortable aches and pains in the body. Knee pain is especially common in the winter season, making life difficult especially for arthritis patients.

But one wonders if winter really is responsible for your joint pain? As it happens, it is just a myth!

In fact, there are a lot of myths that people believe when it comes to knee pain in the winter season. That’s why we’re here today to dispel the most commonly held myths around the knee or joint pain in winter, so you can better understand how to manage pain.

myths of knee pain in winter
Knee pain is common among people. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

HealthShots reached out to Dr Rakesh Nair, consultant knee replacement surgeon at Zen Multispeciality Hospital, Chembur, Mumbai, to break some myths!

Busting myths around joint pain in winter:

Myth 1: Knee pain increases in cold weather

Fact: “It is always believed that cold weather-induced knee pain is associated with arthritis. But, changing weather conditions doesn’t impact joint health,” says Dr Nair. As the atmospheric pressure drops when winter rolls around, this pressure change can cause your joints to swell more than usual, leading to increased pain.

He adds, “Those with arthritis may have problems during winter as the lower barometric pressure tends to create room for tissues in the body to expand, and that creates pressure on the nerves and joints, leading to inflammation and even unbearable pain.”

Myth 2: Painkiller is the only way to manage pain

Fact: Even short-term pain and swelling in the joints can affect your quality of life. Whatever the cause of joint pain, you can usually manage it with medication, physical therapy or alternative treatments. The only problem lies with the regular consumption of painkillers. Regular consumption of painkillers can have side effects, and some of those can be serious. Instead, you should follow a healthy lifestyle such as following a healthy diet and doing the right exercise. Exercise helps one in restoring knee function and alleviating pain while a healthy diet helps to maintain a nutrient deficiency in order to treat inflammation.

Myth 3: People suffering from knee pain should never exercise

Fact: The knee is the biggest joint in the body and we use it for several activities such as walking, running, and climbing. Therefore, it is most vulnerable to injury and pain. Especially in winter, many people get stuck with orthopedic challenges that winter brings with it. However, exercise helps one in restoring knee function, alleviating pain and leading to weight loss. Dr Nair says, “It will only aggravate your pain and stiffness. In fact, simple exercises like leg stretch, knee squats, and step-ups when done under the supervision of a doctor can help in rebuilding the strength of your knees and reduce joint stiffness.”

myths of knee pain in winter,
You can exercise, even if you have knee pain. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Myth 4: People should avoid undergoing knee replacement surgery in winter as the post operation recovery is painful

Fact: “This statement is completely false. There is no connection between knee replacement surgery and weather. Moreover, the pain due to this surgery is similar to other surgeries. Now, the pain can be controlled with the help of a modern approach. Now, the surgery can be done in minimal time, the efficacy has gone up, and the hospital stay has reduced. So, one will be able to resume his/her daily routine with ease after undergoing surgery,” says Dr Nair.

Do not postpone surgery just because you fear pain. You can even speak to your doctor and get all your doubts cleared. The pain should clearly not stop you from undergoing surgery. The condition of your knee will worsen if you delay seeking treatment.

Myth 5: Only old people with arthritis are affected by the weather

Maybe your grandmother knew a storm was coming when their knees started to hurt. But do only old people with arthritis tend to struggle with joints ache when the temperature outside drops? Well not! The way we’ve mentioned winter doesn’t the only reason that cause pain, in the same way not only old people with arthritis experience knee ache due to the chill weather. People with more intense arthritis may notice more pain and swelling due to low atmospheric pressure and high humidity in the air. 

So ladies, stop believing these myths. 

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