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Does Weather Affect Arthritis? Understanding Barometric Pressure and Pain

In many places, spring is known as a time for rain, and summer is a time for humidity. Both of these seasons can be challenging for arthritis sufferers because the weather has a significant impact on how the joints feel and perform.

Studies have revealed contradictory evidence about why the connection between weather and arthritis exists. However, many people notice undeniable changes in how they feel depending on what’s going on outside.

This article provides an explanation about why humidity and rain affect arthritis symptoms and how arthritis sufferers can find relief.

With a better understanding of how weather affects pain and the connection between barometric pressure and pain, individuals may be able to manage symptoms better and live the lives they want.

Spring Rain & Arthritis Pain: Changes in Barometric Pressure and Joint Pain

Many research studies have pointed to changes in temperature and barometric pressure as causes for arthritis pain.1,2,3 Both rising and falling barometric pressure have been linked to arthritis symptoms. However, low barometric pressure, especially when it occurs just before a storm, often means that arthritis sufferers experience uncomfortable pressure in their joints. Back pain and knee pain are particularly common among people who experience arthritis pain before storms arrive.

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But to the contrary, arthritis patients who move to dry climates rarely experience total relief after leaving wet and humid places.6 There is no definite scientific consensus as to why weather affects arthritis pain, but there is a good chance that symptoms will travel along wherever an individual decides to move to.

Summer Humidity & Arthritis Pain

Similarly, many arthritis sufferers report feeling more arthritis pain when the air is filled with humidity. This could be because the body’s tendons, ligaments, and muscles expand when humidity rises and barometric pressure drops.4

Some studies also show that high humidity levels can cause sweating and dehydration which can make the blood thicker, which increases blood pressure in the blood vessels and makes the body work more to pump blood through the body.5,6 Humid days can also cause the body to become dehydrated, which can decrease the concentration of fluid around the joints and create more joint pain.6

Managing Weather Aches & Barometric Pressure Pains

Unfortunately, arthritis symptoms will likely persist no matter what the weather conditions are or what climate one lives in. It is important to stay well-hydrated, especially if the weather is rainy or humid, to keep the joints internally lubricated. It may seem that outside moisture would find its way into the body, but that is not necessarily the case.

In a similar way, swimming is a great exercise for arthritis sufferers to loosen up sore joints despite the weather.7 Swimming laps at an indoor pool or joining a water therapy program8,9 can make a huge difference for arthritis sufferers during rainy and humid seasons. It may seem counter intuitive to immerse the body in water when excess moisture in the air may be causing symptoms to worsen. But low-impact exercises like swimming can actually make a big difference for a joint’s range of motion over time. For immediate relief, over-the-counter arthritis creams like JointFlex can help arthritis sufferers enjoy the changing of seasons with less pain and discomfort. Individuals who suffer from weather-related arthritis symptoms should contact their doctors to discuss over-the-counter treatment options.

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REFERENCES for ARTHRITIS AND WEATHER

1. Your local weather: Predict your joint pain level based on the local weather. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 17, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/tools-resources/weather/.
2. Shmerling, R. H. (2015 November 20). Can the weather really worsen arthritis pain? Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved October 18, 2018 https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/can-the-weather-really-worsen-arthritis-pain-201511208661.
3. McAlindon, T., Formica, M., Schmid, C. H., Fletcher, J., Maroon, J. C., & Bost, J. W. (2007 May). Changes in barometric pressure and ambient temperature influence osteoarthritis pain. The American Journal of Medicine, 120, 429-434. Retrieved October 18, 2018 from National Center of Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17466654.
4. Weather and arthritis pain. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 18, 2018 from http://blog.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/weather-arthritis-pain/.
5. Young-Min, K., Soyeon, K., Hae-Kwan, C., Byungok, A., & Kyusik, C. (2012 July 30). Effects of heat wave on body temperature and blood pressure in the poor and elderly. Environmental Health and Toxicology, 27, e2012013. Retrieved October 18, 2018 from National Center of Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3412201/. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5620/eht.2012.27.e2012013.
6. Gleiber, M. A. Healthy ways to cope with humidity – Your joints and muscles will thank you. Concierge Spine Surgery. Retrieved October 18, 2018 from https://www.michaelgleibermd.com/news/healthy-ways-cope-humidity-joints-muscles-will-thank/.
7. Physical activity for arthritis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 18, 2018 from https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/physical-activity-overview.html.
8. Cole, A. (2010 July 12). Water therapy for osteoarthritis. Veritas Health. Retrieved October 18, 2018 from https://www.arthritis-health.com/treatment/exercise/water-therapy-osteoarthritis.
9. Water walking 101. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 18, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/exercise/workouts/simple-routines/water-walking.php.

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