Many people who experience knee arthritis or achy knee joints report that the pain and other symptoms tend to flare up in the wintertime. It makes intuitive sense – colder temperatures and more time indoors (less activity) can lead to stiffer, more painful knee joints. But it might surprise you that the intense heat of summer can also impact knee health. For example, extreme heat, coupled with dense humidity in some parts of the country, can lead to painful joint swelling for many people.
Having a plan and arming yourself with a few helpful hints can help everyone enjoy the warmth of summer while keeping your knees healthy and pain-free straight through to fall.
Stay Cool – Keep an eye on the forecast and whatever activities you’ve planned for the day — planning a few-mile hike? Awesome! Just be sure to head out for the trails earlier in the day so you can beat the heat of the mid-late afternoon.
Keep Hydrated – Dehydration only makes knee pain worse. Your knee joints function optimally when they are well-lubricated. Proper hydration is essential for adequate knee lubrication. Especially in the summertime, when we tend to lose more fluids through sweat, be sure you always have access to drinking water.
Remain Active – Inactive knees are unhappy knees, and they’ll scream their unhappiness in the form of pain and stiffness. Swimming is a great summertime activity that can help you give your knees the exercise they need and deserve while emphasizing a gentler impact that doesn’t stress them out.
Don’t Overdo It – While it’s crucial to remain consistently active, even in the summertime, don’t overdo it in the heat. Be mindful of the weather forecast. If a three-mile walk in the park was easily doable in the early spring, recognize the elevated temperatures during this time of the year and consider splitting the trek up into two parts – one in the morning, and one in the evening, so that you’re not overexerting yourself during the hottest part of the day.
Be Vigilant – If you are accustomed to frequent bouts of knee pain, it can be tempting to continue to just “grin and bear it.” But anything more than run-of-the-mill achiness is cause for a visit to an orthopedic specialist, especially if you’ve sustained an acute injury to the knee. Also, symptoms like intense swelling, fever, instability, and inability to bear weight on the knee are all symptoms that should be evaluated by a doctor immediately. Don’t worry; we orthopedic professionals don’t take summers off 😉.
Depending on the area of the country you reside in, high summer temperatures can last well into what is traditionally known as the fall months. So, be sure to continue to check the forecast so that you can keep your knee health top of mind no matter the time of year.