Why does my knee hurt in cold weather?

For some people with knee injuries or knee arthritis a drop in the temperature can mean a rise in their knee pain.

The reason for this has been studied and scientists do have some theories but there is still some debate as to why some people notice this phenomenon.


What are the possible causes?

There could be a link between the air pressure and knee pain symptoms. When a cold, damp front moves in the barometric pressure usually falls. The barometric pressure is a measure of the weight of the air around you. There is less pressure on your body from the atmosphere, your tendons, muscles, joints, or scar tissue could swell leading to pain.

Changes in the air pressure, especially when it happens quickly can make peoples knee pain worse.


Joint fluid changes

Another theory explains that the fluid in you joints, called the synovial fluid, will thicken, and become more solid in colder weather. This could make your joints feel stiff and more painful.


Circulation and blood flow

In the cold, the normal blood flow to your knees can get re-routed away from your legs to your vital organs like your heart and lungs. This is you bodies normal response to cold environments to keep warm. It takes warmth away from your joints which can make your joints ache more.

Cold muscles and poor flexibility

The cold can make your muscles tighten up. This means you are less flexible, which means you may be more likely to get sore or injured.

Other influences

During the winter months the dark nights, shorter days and poor weather can lead to changes in your mood. We know that people who suffer with low mood will experience more pain symptoms.

Most people will spend less time outside when its cold and damp than on sunnier days. This could mean less exercise which can lead to muscle weakness and more stiffness and knee pain.

Vitamin D – the sunshine vitamin

Another theory is that a lack of vitamin D can make knee joint pain worse in cold weather. Vitamin D is especially important for bone and muscle health. Your body makes vitamin D when your body is exposed to the sun. We know that many of us in the UK will not get enough sunlight during the winter months.


How can I get rid of my knee pain?

Regardless of the research and theories, if your knees hurt more when it’s cold here are some things you could try:

  • Wear warm clothes, including hats, scarves, and gloves. Tights, leggings, and knee supports, and wraps can keep your knee joints warm.
  • Consider a warm bath to help loosen your muscles and boost your circulation.
  • Keep moving. Even if you can’t get out to exercise. Exercise makes your bones and muscles stronger which will take the pressure off your knee joints. Try yoga or Pilates.
  • Get help with heavy tasks. Don’t push yourself too much when lifting heavy items. Get some help.
  • Watch your weight. Good health foods and keeping your weight down will take the pressure off your knee joints.
  • Sleep well. Make sure you get enough sleep, too little and it can make your pain worse.
  • Keep positive. Do things that you enjoy. This can help shift your mind away from concentrating on your painful knees. 

If you’re suffering from knee pain – get your free copy of my guide to find out everything you need to know about how to manage your symptoms.