Arthritis Pain and the Weather
Changes in the weather can be difficult for many individuals who suffer from arthritis. The weather has a high impact on how your joints feel and function. Studies have shown that there is a connection between arthritic pain and the weather.
Weather Conditions That Are the Worst
Based on general consensus, it has been determined that wet and cold weather are the worst for triggering arthritis pain. After the weather settles in, your pain evens out. In a study of people with osteoarthritis, it was found that there's a substantial connection between temperature, humidity, and joint pain. In a study of people with rheumatoid arthritis, it was found that swollen joints and pain were lower when the days were dry and sunny.
Why Cold Rain Triggers Pain
The exact reason why changes in weather trigger pain haven't been determined. There are a few theories as to why this occurs. Some of the elevated pain stems from decreased activity. When the weather is undesirable, people tend to remain inside. Another theory is changes in barometric pressure can result in contraction and expansion of the muscles, bones, and tendons. Low temperatures can increase the thickness of joint fluids, which cause them to be stiffer and more sensitive to pain while moving.
Managing Weather Aches
You may experience arthritic pain regardless of the weather conditions. It’s critical that you remain well-hydrated, particularly if the weather is humid or rainy, so that you can keep your joints lubricated. Swimming is an excellent exercise if you suffer from arthritis. It helps to loosen painful joints, even in unsavory weather conditions. You can join a water therapy program or swim in an indoor pool. Swimming can have a huge impact on the range of motion of your joints. If you’re in need of immediate relief, then over-the-counter creams can aid in relieving some of the pain. Physical therapy and an exercise regimen may be appropriate for you.
If you suffer from weather-related arthritis, it’s best to consult with an orthopedic, sports medicine physician, or physiatrist, a physician trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation, to discuss your condition and determine appropriate treatment options.
This article was prepared by OrthoAtlanta physiatrist, Dr. Yolanda Scott, and will appear in Chapel Hill News and Views.