By Dr. Ravi Kelkar, Consultant Orthopaedics, Columbia Asia Hospital Hebbal
With the mercury dropping down and the temperatures turned low, it marks the beginning of hot beverages, warm clothes, cosy beds, lazy days in the blanket, some cold and cough, and revival of joint pains. In the cold weather, joints are likely to pain more than they usually do. This occurs more so for people with arthritis or those who happen to have a precursor to arthritis. Many people complain of stiff joints during cold weather particularly when they first make a movement.
The winter weather makes the muscles lose more heat and contract which creates a tightness through the body. Hence, ligaments and joints get stiffer, muscles lose their range of motion and nerves can be easily compressed especially in elderly people or those with injuries specifically under the belt area. The temperature dip forces the muscles to work harder, leading to some damage to the muscle tissue and increased soreness. Experts also explain that when the weather is cold, the body usually conserves heat and sends more blood to the organs in the center of the body like the heart or the lungs. This makes the blood vessels of the arms, legs, shoulders, and knee joints to tighten. The reduced blood flow further makes the joints cold and stiff, leading to pain and discomfort. Some also say that when the weather is cold or damp, barometric pressure changes causing an inflammatory response in the joints, due to changes in blood circulation and nerve fiber sensitivity.
The pain is most likely to occur in weight-bearing joints and the major joints of the body like the knees, hips, and ankles. The people who run more in the outside cold weather also get more affected.
Some factors that lead to joint pains during cold weather include:
RELIEVING THE COLD WEATHER JOINT PAIN
While experiencing stiffness and pain during winters is an extremely common occurrence, it is not very difficult to avoid it. The basic is to keep yourself warm, not just by lying inside a blanket but also by sufficient physical activity. Some ways of keeping yourself warm to avoid joint pains could be:
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