During the winter, patients suffering with knee arthritis may experience a worsening of the condition. When the temperature starts to drop, it can feel like the joints are much stiffer and more painful.
So, is knee arthritis impacted by colder weather and how can you manage your symptoms if it is? Here, you’ll discover everything you need to know about how the weather can affect the condition and what you can do to manage it.
How does temperature affect knee arthritis?
Various studies have confirmed that changing temperatures and weather conditions can affect the symptoms of knee arthritis. Manchester University recently carried out a study which was funded by Versus Arthritis, which revealed those living with arthritis experienced increased pain on windy, humid days.
However, when it comes to linking the cold with increased knee arthritis pain, there is no scientific evidence to back it up. An increase in joint stiffness during colder weather could actually be more down to a lack of activity. We tend to become more sedentary when it is colder outdoors. When you suffer with knee arthritis, long periods of inactivity are going to ultimately increase the stiffness of the joint.
Another theory as to why some patients do experience increased pain in winter, is that pain receptors are more sensitive to cold. This means, in colder temperatures, you may notice the pain caused by knee arthritis more than you would in warmer weather.
So, the cold won’t worsen knee arthritis, but it can make the condition feel more painful.
Ways to manage the condition in winter
If you suffer with knee arthritis, there are things you can do to manage the condition in winter. These include:
- Wearing compression style clothing
- Pain medication
- Steroid injections
- Physical therapy
- Vitamin D supplements
Compression style clothing, such as leggings, can help to support the joint, as well as keep you warmer than loose fitting clothing. It is also known to reduce inflammation, resulting in less pain.
You can also talk to your doctor about increasing your pain medication during the winter. Non-steroid based pain medications could help to make the condition more manageable in winter.
If you find the condition is very painful in colder weather, steroid injections may help. This treatment lasts potentially months, so it could be an effective way to ride out the winter months in comfort.
Physical therapy can also prove effective. Not only can it reduce pain, but it can improve mobility too. Finally, increasing your vitamin D consumption can also help. In winter, vitamin D levels drop due to decreased sunlight. The vitamin has been shown to help reduce pain in arthritis patients. Taking a supplement in the winter months can help to keep levels topped up and decrease joint pain.
The above are some of the best ways to manage knee arthritis in colder weather. However, if the pain is severe or you do notice it worsening, book a consultation with a knee specialist. You may need to undergo a knee replacement surgery if the condition is deteriorating.