The knee joint is one of the weight bearing joints of the body and most individuals experience pain in knees while walking or climbing up/down the stairs at some point in time in their lives (especially with advancing age).
Symptoms may worsen in cold conditions leading to increased difficulty in performing activities of daily living.
While joint pain is a sign of injury or presence of an underlying condition such as arthritis, in winters, even the healthiest of individuals may experience vague, nagging pain in joints (especially knee).
Although, the exact reason for the pain and stiffness is unknown, it may be speculated that the body tends to conserve heat during winters; therefore, more blood is pumped to the central organs of the body, such as heart and lungs.
Thus, blood flow to the extremities or joints in the upper and lower limbs are reduced causing pain.
Another hypothesis states that changes in external environmental pressure leads to inflammatory response in the joints which leads to swelling and pain, due to circulatory changes and increased sensitivity of nerve fibres.
What can be done?
There is no method to prevent knee joint pain during winter season. Basic changes to daily routine will help you get through the season comfortably. Ensure that you wear warm clothes.
Continue routine activities as usual. Staying active is important to ensure proper blood flow into muscles and joints, which will aid in preventing stiffness and pain. Reduce the intensity of the activity if there is discomfort, but do not stop the activity completely.
Patients with arthritis or prosthetic joints must consult their physiotherapists/orthopedic doctors and modify their daily activity routine.
In addition, basic quadriceps and hamstrings strengthening exercises to be done which a regular physiotherapist can teach you. A proper warm-up and stretching in winters before and after any form of exercise is very important to prevent knee joint damage and prevent further injury.
You may use heat packs for instant pain relief, but care must be taken not to scald the area. These measures may be repeated few times in a day. Use warm water while bathing and incorporate basic massage techniques. This is known to improve blood circulation which helps relieve tightness in muscles thereby improving the ability to move.
A key aspect is to understand that the body has its’ limits; therefore, ensure adequate rest as well. Do not stress your knee joint too much at once. Pace your activities such that the joint has sufficient time to recover.
Also knee pain can increase in winters if there is a deficiency state of calcium, Vitamin D3 and vitamin B12. So always get these blood tests done yearly so as to maintain optimal levels
A natural way to boost immunity and strengthen the body is by incorporation of a balanced diet as well as natural therapies that support blood circulation and reduce inflammation.
Here’s a list of herbs and other substances that can help you achieve this:
- Ginger can help boost health with its anti-inflammatory and stimulant of peripheral circulation. It has been shown to have benefits in arthritic pathologies.
- Certain chillies have anti-inflammatory properties which help in reducing swelling associated with arthritis.
- Ginkgo biloba is a herb that has well known vasodilatory properties.
- Certain fishes and fish oils – Contain omega 3 fatty acids which act as anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that modulate both local and systemic environment.
- Essential oils – Eucalyptus, wintergreen, rosemary, chamomile: commonly used in massages for pain and spasm relief and detoxification.
Understand that maintenance of good health all year round is important to be able to get through the cold season comfortably. This winter, take a pledge to wake up early and exercise to stay fit and active to prevent pain in your joints.
The author is an exclusive knee replacement surgeon at Zen Hospital
Also Read :- Freeze yourself at -150° C to get relief from pain