Why Knee & Joint Pain Increase When It’s Cold

Why Knee Joint Pain Increase When It's Cold

You may have been wondering: “Why do my legs hurt when it is cold?” Joint pains are symptoms of an injury or an underlying health condition. But cold weather does create joint pains, especially when you must spend time outdoors during winter. Let’s take a brief look at the reasons for this kind of pain and how you can get it treated.

What Is the Cause of Knee Pain in Cold Weather?

At the end of the fall or during winter, complaints about joint pain are usually heard more than other seasons of the year. There’s inadequate research to prove the cause of this condition. During the cold months, the body tries to conserve more heat and it sends more blood to organs in the mid-section of the body, like your heart, lungs and digestive organs.

Consequently, the legs, knees, arms, shoulders and other joints have less blood. This, in turn, makes the blood vessels at the joints constrict. The reduced flow of blood makes those areas stiffer and colder, which can result in pain and discomfort.


Does Barometric Pressure Affect Pain?

When the weather is cold, the joints get inflamed due to a change in atmospheric pressure. This may cause greater joint pain because of increased nerve sensitivity and poor blood circulation.

Why Does My Knee Hurt When It’s Cold?

You may feel pain in different parts of your body. But cold weather discomfort occurs mainly in the hips, knees and ankles. This happens more when you run regularly. If you tend to spend more time exercising in the cold, you’ll put more pressure on weight-bearing joints. As explained earlier, the pain you feel could be caused by restricted blood flow to the joints or changes in pressure.

What Can You Do to Reduce Cold Weather Joint Pain?

Keeping warm can help you reduce cold weather joint pain, especially when you’re going to run outdoors in winter. Here are some ways to warm up:

  • Do warm-up exercises: Spend five minutes or more stretching. This reduces stiffness and prevents joint injuries.
  • Don’t stop running suddenly: When you need to take a break, keep walking so your knee joints won’t get cold and start to hurt.
  • Cool down properly: Immediately after running, do some stretching to reduce muscle tightening that occurs shortly after prolonged exercise.
  • Stay indoors on very cold days: Do your workout indoors. Rather than going out to run on snow-covered pavement, get on your treadmill for a 20-minute cardio workout.

What Should You Do If Your Joints Still Hurt in Cold Weather?

If you discover that your joints still hurt after you’ve applied these tips, you need to talk to a physical therapist or orthopedist. Give us a call now to book an appointment with OrthoBethesda. We’ll do a full examination on your joints to determine whether the pain you feel is due to a health condition.