As the temperature takes a dip, joint pain elevates high

Contributed by Dr. Ravi Kelkar, Consultant Orthopaedics, Columbia Asia Hospital Hebbal

With the mercury dropping down and the temperatures turned low, it marks the beginning of hot beverages, warm clothes, cosy beds, lazy days in the blanket, some cold and cough, and revival of joint pains. In the cold weather, joints are likely to pain more than they usually do. This occurs more so for people with arthritis or those who happen to have a precursor to arthritis. Many people complain of stiff joints during cold weather particularly when they first make a movement.

The winter weather makes the muscles lose more heat and contract which creates a tightness through the body. Hence, ligaments and joints get stiffer, muscles lose their range of motion and nerves can be easily compressed especially in elderly people or those with injuries specifically under the belt area. The temperature dip forces the muscles to work harder, leading to some damage to the muscle tissue and increased soreness. Experts also explain that when the weather is cold, the body usually conserves heat and sends more blood to the organs in the center of the body like the heart or the lungs. This makes the blood vessels of the arms, legs, shoulders, and knee joints to tighten. The reduced blood flow further makes the joints cold and stiff, leading to pain and discomfort. Some also say that when the weather is cold or damp, barometric pressure changes causing an inflammatory response in the joints, due to changes in blood circulation and nerve fiber sensitivity.

The pain is most likely to occur in weight-bearing joints and the major joints of the body like the knees, hips, and ankles. The people who run more in the outside cold weather also get more affected.

Some factors that lead to joint pains during cold weather include:

  • Lesser the temperature, more the hard work put in by the muscles and more the pain.
  • Alteration in the barometric pressure which can make the body tissue expand and increase the stress on the joints.
  • Sensitivity also increases during cold and so more pain especially if a person suffers from rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Reduced physical activity and decreased exercise which leads to muscle stiffness.
  • Joints also tend to have less elasticity in the cold but when warmed up, they stretch better.


While experiencing stiffness and pain during winters is an extremely common occurrence, it is not very difficult to avoid it. The basic is to keep yourself warm, not just by lying inside a blanket but also by sufficient physical activity. Some ways of keeping yourself warm to avoid joint pains could be:

  • Before you set out for exercising in the cold, you must do a proper warm-up and stretch which is generally longer than the warm-up you do in summer temperatures. This will open up your muscles, make them more flexible before you get exercising and prevent further stiffness as well.
  • Even during pauses or breaks in your run or during your exercise routine, ensure to implement dynamic movements to keep yourself warm and agile otherwise your joints and muscles can begin to feel stiff during those breaks as the body temperature goes down.
  • Not just warm-up, a proper cool down to let your body experience the correct intensity is equally important. This also aids the reduction of tightening in the muscles which might occur after exercising.
  • If the weather is extremely chilly, avoid stepping out for a run or exercise. Alternatively consider exercising indoor but do not skip it, even if you do it for a lesser duration. Staying active is essential for better functioning of the muscles and joints. After a long duration of no activity, the soreness or pain tends to be more during that first movement you do but if you continue the movement, the muscles warm-up and won’t bind up so much. Exercising also improves the flow of blood and oxygen throughout the body.
  • If you still experience joint pain, despite a proper warm-up and cool-down inclusive exercising, visit an orthopedist or physical therapist to ensure there is no injury. Pain is not always a result of an injury; it could even be vice-versa where joint pain can lead to injuries. Not just that if stiffness of muscles is left unaddressed then that can cause injury too and worsen the situation.
  • Dress-up in layers and keep your body warm, protecting your skin and joints from outdoor cold exposure.
  • The often-missed point in the tightness of the muscles (especially in the upper body) is our posture. Instead of scrunching up over a period of time and further stiffening the muscles, it is important to lengthen your entire body, pulling it up, elongating your back, getting your shoulders down, and maintain a better posture. Doing shoulder rolls, neck rolls, and arm rolls while working long hours sitting also helps.
  • If someone is an arthritic patient, then they are likely to experience more weakness, hence reduce movement and so more soreness. They must work to strengthen their arthritic or stiff joints even before winter arrives and constantly work on them.

UP State Roadways Corporation drivers bare their pain on social media

Contractual bus drivers in the UP State Roadways Corporation (UPSRTC) took to social media to expose the “miserable” conditions in which they are required to work.

In a post on their Facebook page called “UP Parichalark”, the drivers said: “If the driver of the ill-fated bus dozed off leading to the accident, he is responsible but so is the UPSRTC that employs drivers at abysmally low remuneration and takes double the work. The UPSRTC makes a profit through this policy.”

The post added that contractual drivers and conductors get Rs 1.36 per km and are expected to work up to 16 to 17 hours.

The UPSRTC has around 26,000 drivers and conductors, of which 17,500 are employed on contractual basis.

The drivers on contractual basis get payment per kilometre. Regular drivers who have put in 22 days of duty and covered 5,000 km get an additional incentive of Rs 3,000.

“If the contractual drivers cover even a kilometre less that 5,000, their working days are noted as 21 instead of 22 and the incentive is held back. Contractual staff works up to 15 top 20 hours a day because they need the money to keep their families going. We are made to drive buses that are in a poor condition and if we refuse, our services are terminated,” the post said.

Moreover, the contractual staff is made to pay for breakages if any and also for excess fuel consumed.

The post said that the employees unions had raised these issues several times but did not go beyond a point because of the fear of dismissal.

“There has been no effort to regularize the service of ad hoc employees or get the buses serviced and maintained on a regular basis,” it added.



Rahat Indori shares ‘power cut’ pain with MP CM

Frustrated with long power cuts in Madhya Pradesh amid the ongoing heat wave, Urdu poet Rahat Indori on Sunday shared his pain with Chief Minister
Kamal Nath and state Power Minister Priyavrat Singh on Twitter.

“Electricity failures are a routine nowadays. There has been no power for three hours today. It’s Ramzan and hot, and noone’s picking the phone in Indore Power company (@mppkvvclindore). Please help,” Indori tweeted tagging the post to the office of the Chief Minister Kamal Nath and state Power Minister Priyavrat Singh.

Replying to the tweet, Higher Education Minister Jitu Patwari said: “The power supply has been affected due to the sandstorms over the past few days. But it has been rectified. Electricity staff should be rewarded for the hours they spent fixing the faults.”