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What causes joint pain in winters?

Joint pain in winters

Winter sun, short days, and falling temperature describe the pleasant winter season. However, winter also brings along sharp joint pain for a lot of people. This weather sensitivity affects close to 39% of osteoarthritis patients.

But why do your joints hurt more in the cold? Let’s find out.

In this article, Dr Nitiraj Oberoi, a leading orthopaedic expert in Delhi, discusses the leading causes of joint pain in winters.

What causes joint pain in winters?

There are several reasons for experiencing increasing joint pain during winter. Primarily, it happens because of the rising cold that causes stiffness in your muscles and soft tissues.

Additionally, the barometric pressure (a measurement of the weight in the air) causes your muscles, tendons, and joints to expand and swell. This swelling confines the space in your body leading to pain. Hence, the altered atmospheric pressure makes bones that are osteoporotic or otherwise diseased more tender.

During winters, your body tries to conserve heat by routing blood flow away from your arms and legs and towards the vital organs like the heart and lungs. This effort can cause your joints to hurt more. An incorrect slouched and crunched posture can also make the spine & shoulder blade more sensitive leading to pain.

Which joints are more painful?

You may experience greater pain in the joints that have an inherent disease or those which bear more load than others.

For instance, you may experience increased pain in your shoulders because your upper limb undergoes less activity. Similarly, you can feel more pain in your lower back as a result of prolonged sitting. Your knee joints may also have higher levels of pain due to weakened thigh muscles.

Another joint that may become more painful than others is your ankles as water retention makes them heavier.

What is the correlation between viral infection & joint pains?

It is well known that certain viral fevers actuate the process of systemic infections leading to swelling & pain in weight-bearing joints. Viral infections trigger your immune system to act against the joints. Various infections such as infection of the urine, throat, and intestine can lead to multiple joint pains.

How can I prevent joint pain in winters? 

Here are some tips you can follow to avoid joint pain in winters:

Warmth and hydration

Wear adequate layers of clothing to maintain warmth in your body. You should also ensure to drink plenty of water and avoid consumption of excessive alcohol & coffee to preserve muscle health.


Vitamin D supplements are useful in the timely treatment of osteoporosis. Another supplement you can consider is glucosamine. Consult your doctor for their daily intake.

Regular exercises

When it comes to exercising, it is important to note that consistency is important and sporadic bursts of activities can cause injuries. You should do gentle warming exercises daily followed by stretches & geometric strengthening.

Walking aids & supports

The senior population experiences more damage due to a lack of balance. It is advised that the elderly use walking aids such as sticks to increase stability & reduce pain.

Is surgery safe in winter?

During intense winters or wet winter days, surgical pain and stiffness can increase. Thus, it is wise to defer elective surgeries by 2-3 weeks after a detailed evaluation of risks.

For more information on joint and muscular health, book an appointment with our orthopaedic experts at the CK Birla Hospital.

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