How Cold Weather Can Affect a Knee Injury

January 22, 2020 10:13 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Patients who have suffered knee injuries or experience ongoing knee pain commonly report their symptoms worsen when the weather gets cold. But why is this, and what can be done for people with knee pain to prevent it from getting worse when the mercury dips?

Here are a few causes of cold weather joint pain in Las Vegas, NV and how to manage them:

  • Air pressure changes: Cold weather usually arrives with low pressure systems, and people are often able to feel those changes in atmospheric pressure in their joints. As air pressure rises and falls, tendons, tissues and muscles can expand and contract, which can result in some discomfort or pain. This happens with the attachment points of tendons all around the knee, which is why people who have sustained knee injuries are more likely to feel pain at that joint during cold weather.
  • Joint fluid: Cold weather can also affect the joint fluid located around the knee, which is known as synovial fluid. This fluid’s role is to cushion the cartilage that is between the knee bones. At lower temperatures, that fluid can thicken, which leads to decreased mobility of the joint and some difficulty with joint function, which can result in pain or discomfort in some cases.
  • Lack of movement: People tend to stay bundled up and indoors during the winter, which can lead to a rather sedentary lifestyle. If you don’t stay active during the winter months, you’re more likely to experience a weakening of the muscles and tendons around your knee joint, meaning they won’t be able to provide as much support for your body. This will lead to discomfort and pain around the knee joint.
  • Scar tissue and nerve issues: We feel pain as a result of nerve signals being transmitted from the pained area to the brain. There are a lot of pain receptors around the knee, including the joint capsule, muscles and tendons. That joint capsule is a sort of balloon-like structure that separates the joint from the soft tissues around it, and it contains the joint fluid. Whenever the cartilage or the joint capsule are weakened or worn out, the nerves can become more exposed to pressure, and when the nerves are exposed, they’ll be more sensitive to the changes in air pressure and temperature.

So, what can you do when the weather gets colder to keep your knee from feeling pained? The best strategy is to get regular exercise. Not only will this strengthen the muscles around your joint, decreasing pain at the tendon attachments, but it will also improve your range of motion and give your cartilage some of the important nutrients it needs to stay healthy and avoid wearing out, exposing nerves and pain sensors.

Engage in regular stretching and strengthening exercises, and if needed, talk to your doctor about anti-inflammatory medication you can use to dull pain as you strengthen the joint.

For more information, we encourage you to contact the office of Bernard Ong, M.D. about dealing with cold weather joint pain in Las Vegas, NV.

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