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I've noticed that during my workouts in the gym my elbow and knee joints are getting unusually warm, warmer than the rest of the leg/arm.

Is this normal or is this a sign that something is wrong?

PS: I don't have any pain, I'm doing all my exercises super accurate and I'm not overdoing it with the weights.

As requested some more information about my current situation:

  • 30 years old
  • Three times a week 60-90 minutes of mixed weight/cardio training targeted at weight loss
  • Weight: 116 kg (started at 130 kg a year ago)
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What kind of workouts do you do and how experienced with them are you? Also please add some more information about yourself, like your current health/fitness and age. –  Ivo Flipse May 24 '11 at 9:32
    
How do you know they're getting warm? Are you measuring the temperature with a thermometer, are you just touch-testing the temperature, or do they just feel warmer internally? –  Nathan Wheeler Jun 3 '11 at 21:36
    
Touch-testing. There's a very noticable temperature difference between the knee and the shin or thigh. But next time I'm going to try an infrared thermometer. –  Daniel Rikowski Jun 4 '11 at 13:56
    
I have the same exact issue! My elbows and knees becoming burning hot to the touch when the great of.my body feels cool. Its annoying but not painful and only happens after a long workout. Wish I.knew what it was. –  user3646 Jun 9 '12 at 23:32

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I can't give you a definitive answer, but I dug up some info that might help you decide how concerned you should be.

Joint heat may be a sign something is wrong. Heat is one of the cardinal signs of inflammation, so hot joints could indicate something in there is starting to act up. Inflammation could be exacerbated by high-impact cardio, especially if you're overweight (I don't know your BMI). You don't seem to have other typical signs of inflammation though (pain, redness, swelling, loss of function), so it's hard to say if you should be worried about it or not.

I found this article that compares the heat distribution over normal to inflamed joints. Check out page 495 for images of the heat distribution of normal joints and page 496 for inflamed joints. You'll see that the centers of normal joints are actually cooler than surrounding tissues. However, you should take this with a grain of salt because the measurements were taken on subjects at rest, not after exercise, and heat distribution might change a bit when you work out.

I couldn't find any research that directly compared to the temperature of muscles to that of joints during exercise, but from this thermogram from a study examining heat changes of the thigh after exercise, it looks like the area behind the knee does heat up quite a bit during exercise; however, this may not be representative of the state of entire knee joint. If you look at the images of from the study linked above, the healthy knee was much hotter behind the knee than in the actual joint.

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I have the same issues of heat on the knee also. I have x-rays taken of my knees, and I have the knees of a 25 y/o even though I am 56. However, after having my lower back looked at there were signs of a pinched nerve that might be the reason for knee issues.

I am currently seeing a physical therapist a couple of days a week, and knots were found above the lower tailbone area. After having that area massaged, minor workout pain levels went from 6 to 2 (on a scale of 1 being no pain to 10 being the highest pain).

I am thinking that lower back exercises and minor knee exercises could help the issue. I hope this info could also help you to locate your problems.

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I don't see if this answer really is related to the question, as it explicitly mentions that there is no pain in the knees. –  Baarn Nov 2 '12 at 21:57

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