If you’ve ever experienced pain in your knee when it’s cold outside, you’re not alone. This is a pretty common issue. You may be wondering “why does my knee hurt when it’s cold?” There are many possible causes of this pain, and thankfully, there are also many solutions.

In this blog post, we will discuss some of the most common causes of knee pain when it’s cold, as well as ways to alleviate that pain. Stay warm out there!

The Knee Joint

One of the most common reasons why your knee may hurt when it’s cold is because of the knee joint itself. The knee joint is made up of three bones: the femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone), and patella (knee cap). These bones are held together by ligaments, tendons, and cartilage.

The cartilage of the knee is called the meniscus, and it acts as a shock absorber between the femur and tibia. When it’s cold outside, the knee joint can stiffen up and become painful.

The knee also contains synovial fluid, which helps to lubricate the joint and keep it moving smoothly. When it’s cold, this fluid can become thicker and less effective at lubricating the joint. This can also lead to pain in the knee.

When your knee joint is cold, the blood vessels in the area constrict. This happens because the smooth muscles in the walls of the vessels contract in response to the cold temperature. This constriction provides less blood flow to the area and helps to conserve heat. In addition, the body may release substances that promote vasoconstriction, such as norepinephrine.

The reduced blood flow can cause the knee joint to feel cold and may contribute to stiffness. However, once the joint warm up again, the blood vessels will dilate and blood flow will return to normal.


Why Does My Knee Hurt When It’s Cold?

There are many possible reasons why your knee may hurt when there is colder weather. In some cases, the pain is due to the changes that occur in the knee joint itself. In other cases, the pain may be caused by an underlying condition. Here are some of the most common causes of knee pain in cold temperatures:

Arthritis: Arthritis is a common cause of knee pain. There are many different types of arthritis, but the most common forms are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage in the joint breaks down, causing the bones to rub together. Arthritis pain can be worse in cold weather because the joint tends to stiffen up resulting in chronic pain.

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the tissue around the joints. This can cause inflammation, pain, and stiffness resulting in achy joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can also be worse in colder weather or when air pressure drastically changes.

Bursitis: Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursa, which is a small sack of fluid that acts as a cushion between the bones, tendons, and muscles around a joint. The bursa helps to reduce friction and allows the joint to move smoothly. Bursitis can be caused by overuse, injury, or infection. Cold weather or periods of high humidity can make bursitis pain worse because the joint tends to stiffen up.

Gout: Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs when there is too much uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is a waste product that is produced when the body breaks down purines.

Purines are found in many foods, including meat, seafood, and alcohol. When there is too much uric acid in the blood, it can form crystals in the joints. These crystals can cause pain, swelling, and inflammation. The winter season can make gout pain worse because it can cause the uric acid crystals to form more easily.

Patellar Tendonitis: Patellar tendonitis is an inflammation of the patellar tendon. This tendon connects the kneecap (patella) to the shinbone (tibia). Patellar tendonitis is often caused by overuse, such as in athletes who participate in sports that involve a lot of jumping. Colder temperatures during the colder months can make patellar tendonitis pain worse because the joint tends to stiffen up.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome: Iliotibial band syndrome is an inflammation of the iliotibial band. The iliotibial band is a strip of tissue that runs from the hip to the knee. It helps to stabilize the knee joint

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner’s knee): Runner’s knee is a type of injury that can occur when the kneecap (patella) does not track properly in the groove of the femur. This can cause the patella to rub against the femur, resulting in pain, an inflammatory response, and additional knee problems. Weather changes, like rainy days or cold days, can make the runner’s knee pain worse because the joint tends to stiffen up.

Cold weather causes weather-related joint pain by constricting the blood vessels and reducing blood flow to the joint. This can cause the joint to feel cold and may contribute to stiffness. However, once the joint warms up again, blood flow will return to normal.

If you experience severe pain in your knee that is worse in cold weather, it is important to see a doctor to determine the underlying cause of your


Conservative Treatment for Knee Pain in Bad Weather

There are many things you can do at home to help relieve knee pain during cold weather. Some of the most effective treatments include:

Resting: It is important to rest your knee when you are experiencing pain. This will help to reduce inflammation and give the joint a chance to heal.

Anti-inflammatory medication: Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can help to reduce pain and swelling.

Applying heat: Applying a heating pad, wearing warm clothing, using electric blankets, a hot water bottle, or taking warm baths are the best ways to increase blood flow to the joint and reduce stiffness and provide relief to your painful knees.

Physical Therapy: A Physical Therapist provides exercises that can help to increase range of motion, flexibility, and strength. A physical therapist can also teach you how to properly use crutches or other mobility devices if you need them when your knee hurts.

Joint pain can be a real nuisance, especially when it’s cold outside. If you are experiencing knee pain that is worse in cold weather, there are many things you can do to help relieve your pain. Some of the most effective treatments include resting, taking anti-inflammatory medication, applying heat, and physical therapy.

In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair damaged tissue or to realign the joint. If your pain is severe and does not improve with conservative treatment, it would be a good idea to make an appointment to see an orthopedic surgeon.

Thank you for reading! We hope this article was helpful in understanding why cold weather may make your knee pain worse and what you can do about it. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

About the Author

Hi there! I’m Dr. Keagen Hadley, OTD, OTR/L. Straight out of the University of Mary, I’m all about blending my know-how in knee health, well-being, and medical technology. As a licensed occupational therapy doc, I’m here to translate complex concepts into clear, actionable insights – whether it’s knee care or groundbreaking healthcare tech.

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