Osteoarthritis causes more stiffness on the knees, especially in colder weather. It becomes hard to walk after being in one position. In fact, your knee can predict the weather as well based on your stiffness.
What causes knee stiffness in the winter months? Barometric pressure, cold, and high humidity effects on the cellular structure of bones and cartilage creates expansion and contraction feelings that cause unpleasant pressure. The fluids and gasses within the knee expand which causes more stiffness. These changes can also cause common conditions like patellar tendonitis and runner’s knee. There are simple tips that can help to reduce stiffness in the winter months.
Here are five tips to help reduce knee stiffness in the winter:
Wear the right shoes – Shoes that have good support and cushioning can help protect your knees from the impact of walking or running. Avoid high heels, which can put extra pressure on your knees. Right shoes can absorb the shock and create less pressure on the knees. Wearing proper shoes can not only help you with knee joints but also with your back and other joints as well.
Check vitamin D levels – A lack of vitamin D can lead to joint pain. In the winter months, many older adults don`t leave the house more often. Lack of sun exposure can cause vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D plays a vital role in bones and muscles. If you think you may be deficient, ask your doctor to test your levels.
Regular strengthening & stretching exercise: For people with knee osteoarthritis, exercise is key to maintaining strength and flexibility. Regular strengthening and stretching programs can help reduce stiffness, pain, and fatigue. Regular exercise can replenish lubrication to joint cartilage which reduces stiffness. Also, regular stretching exercises can help to improve muscle length and allow joints to move better. That can reduce the risk of injury on the knee joint as well. Three stretching you want to include in your routine for knee pain, hamstring, quads, and IT band. There are so many different ways to stretch muscles but find your comfortable position and do regular stretching.
Weight loss: Losing weight can take pressure off your knees. If you`re overweight or obese, that can put extra pressure on joints. Even losing a small amount of weight can help relieve pressure on your knees. A most common excuse is that if my knee hurts I can not do my regular exercise but there are so many different ways of doing exercise or staying active without affecting knee pain. You can talk with a physical therapist and they can help you to design a specific program that can help you not only with knee pain but also to reduce weight.
Wear Knee sleeves: Knee sleeves can help to keep your knees warm and also provide compression which can help reduce inflammation and swelling. Knee sleeves can also avoid micro movement on your knee which reduces pain and grinding especially for people with severe arthritis. There are so many varieties available on the market for knee sleeves but get the simple one that fits you well. It should be tight but still, be able to put one finger underneath the sleeves.
A heating pad or Ice pack: Another way to reduce knee stiffness is by using a heating pad or ice pack. Applying heat will help increase blood flow and loosen up the joint while cold therapy can help decrease inflammation. Alternate between hot and cold packs for about 15 minutes at a time.
Take a break: If you’re feeling stiff, take a break from whatever you’re doing and walk around for a few minutes. This will help increase blood flow and loosen up the joint.
Wear warm clothes to keep joints warm. If you wear heavy warm clothes that add up weight and cause more pressure on knee joints, try to wear light but warm clothes.
Omega 3 fatty acid/Fish oil is also good to supplement to help with joint pain, it can be found in cold-water fish and also in some of the nuts and seeds for a vegan option. You can talk with your primary physician about omega 3 fatty acids and if it is the right choice for you.
How physical therapy can help your knee pain and stiffness:
Physical therapy is a great way to help reduce knee pain and stiffness. Therapists can prescribe exercises that will help stretch and strengthen the muscles around your knee. They can also give you tips on how to properly walk and move in order to put less stress on your joints. If you are experiencing significant knee pain or stiffness, physical therapy may design a specific program for you that customizes your body type and abilities.
Manual therapy like joint mobilization, cupping therapy, and dry needle are some of the best courses of treatment for knee pain and stiffness. They are very effective in breaking up the adhesions and improving joint range of motion.
A dry Needle is also a great treatment for knee pain and stiffness. It helps to improve blood circulation, which will help to bring nutrients and oxygen to the tissues that need it most. This can help to reduce inflammation and pain.
Being proactive and following up with tips consistently can help you the most with your knee pain and stiffness in winter weather.