Our pain threshold goes down during the winter months as the nerve endings get hypersensitive. So the same pain inflicted during summer and winters are different and the body screams out from a lesser amount of pain in winter than in summer.
Those suffering from arthritis would thus need an increased dosage to get relief from the same pain. Operatory procedures are also required at times. The bones and joints are most easily affected during this time and the knee joint, being more superficial (with less muscle and fat covering) than say the hip, is more exposed to the vagaries of the weather, and becomes the commonest joint affected.
Most people with knee pain, especially those with arthritis, have the misconception that walking around will wear their knee out further. They couldn't be more wrong. It is by flexing the knee more that they get more blood circulation going, increase the joint nutrition and make the muscles and bones there stronger.
If knee pain has not set in yet this winter for you, it is advisable that you set time apart — from today itself to prevent it. Just ensure to get into a regular activity like cycling, swimming or walking on a flat surface for 40 minutes to one hour every day, without fail. If you start these activities before the onset of winter, you would be giving your knees a healthier chance.
And in case your regular knee pain has already set in, take a Panadol tablet or two — yes, that old trusted painkiller — and start on with the above mentioned activities. There are activities that you should not do too: climbing up and down the steps, getting up from a very low seating position (like an Indian closet) and heavy physical activities. In a couple of weeks, your pain should subside.
Winters are the time people visit the orthopaedician most, and even request for knee surgeries. The advisable option is to preferably wait out the winter (and do these activities instead), and consider the surgical option only if the pain persists during the summer.
Seeing a doctor
Your orthopaedician would mostly take an X ray first, of your knees. They would be able assess the existing damage with this, and advise you on the way ahead. Along with medication, your doctor may advise you a course of physiotherapy. This will strengthen your muscles, increase your range of movements with the affected joint and make your bones stronger.
Dr. Renjith S. Nair, orthopaedic surgeon, Apollo Hospitals