Why does joint pain increase in the winter season? Expert tells WION the reasons and preventive measures

The winter season comes with a number of health problems, such as cold, flu, pneumonia, sore throat, asthma attacks, etc. Joint pain is also quite common when the temperature starts to drop, some people feel muscle spasms, which can aggravate the joints, causing stiffness .

In extreme cold, people generally reduce physical work and other activities, leading to discomfort in knees, hips and ankles. In the elderly, the situation becomes even worse, as a majority already suffer from musculoskeletal disorders, which worsen during the winter season.

To understand the cause and preventive measures in detail, WION spoke to Dr. Ashwani Maichand (MBBS, MS (orthopaedics) and MCh (orthopaedics))who is from the department of orthopedics, in the CK Birla Hospital.

Dr. Maichand, who has over 25 years of surgical, clinical and teaching experience, discussed a number of issues to explain why some orthopedic problems occur during the winter season.

He said there are two subgroups of patients during the winter season: “one with acute problems and another with chronic problems”.

He said those with acute problems are usually the younger group of patients, under 40 years old. In such cases, they suddenly get a spasm in the neck, back or somewhere else, usually in larger muscles (trunk muscles).

Dr. Maichand explained that in such cases people may experience “sudden spasms and be unable to move at all”. It’s generally a “temporary phenomenon,” lasting for a few days and after proper care, it calms down, he said.

Then there are older patients. These are the patients who may be suffering from “chronic problems, such as spondylosis or arthritis in the joints”.

Dr Maichand said that the number of these two types of patients increases during the winter season.

Why is that happening?

Dr. Maichand mentioned during the conversation that the lack of activity in the winter season is one of the reasons. He said people tend to cut down on physical activity because of the cold weather outside.

He said the second reason is the congestion of blood around the joint area when it collects and causes pain.

He further explained that in younger people, the muscles are already slightly contracted due to the low temperature and their height is not optimal. When people make sudden movements, it causes a tear in muscle fibers and that causes pain.

What are the preventive measures?

“Should keep outdoor activities like walking, cycling, gym, doing yoga, etc. Don’t stop going outside. You can change your schedule, but don’t stop,” said Dr Maichand.

He noted that “if you suffer from a chronic problem, like the elderly group, they should follow their regular treatment”. Whether it’s physiotherapy or any other medication, don’t stop taking it because in the winter we get a little sluggish and “the problem may get worse if we stop the treatment”.

When it came to treatment, Dr. Maichand explained that there are options such as physical therapy, muscle strengthening and stretching exercises. Treatment varies depending on the severity of the cases.


(Image: Dr Ashwani Maichand)

During the conversation with Dr. Maichand, we emphasized the following points to avoid orthopedic problems during the season:

-Keep moving. Don’t stop exercising.

– Avoid weight gain. Eat a healthy, balanced diet.

-Do not stop ongoing treatments.

-Stay warm both indoors and out.

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Why does joint pain increase in the winter season? Expert tells WION the reasons and preventive measures

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