Have you ever heard your grandmother (or another older person) claim she can predict a change in the weather, based on their level of joint pain? Turns out, there may be some scientific support for that claim. Although researchers aren’t exactly clear on why it is so, one study showed that with a 10-degree drop in temperature the increase in pain level was discernable. Some theories suggest that temperature shifts in the weather lead to changes in the level of fluid lining the joints, thereby causing increased pain and/or inflammation. Relatively low barometric pressure and precipitation have also been shown to cause increases in pain.
Who is at risk? Who is most likely to be affected? Increased levels of pain are most likely due to increased nerve sensitivity, caused by chronic inflammation (such as arthritis), recent or previous injury, scaring, or adhesions. Individuals more likely to be affected include:
- The elderly
- Growing children
- Persons with recent/past surgeries/injuries/fractures
- Persons with Raynaud’s disease or fibromyalgia
- Persons living a sedentary or inactive lifestyle
- Individuals lacking adequate nutrition, hydration, or sleep
- Those with weak joints due to lack of sunlight and/or vitamin D
DIY treatments you can do at home may ease your pain.
- Stay warm, especially when the weather outside is cold and damp. Wearing extra layers, keeping blankets handy, and using a space heater can all help. A warm shower or soak in the tub can also be helpful.
- Get – or keep – moving! Although colder weather may cause you to just want to stay indoors huddled under a blanket, exercise is one of the best remedies. Exercise keeps joints from getting stiff and helps prevent weight gain which puts added stress on joints. Do whatever you enjoy – walking (outside or on a treadmill), yoga, tai chi, or swimming are all effective. Don’t forget to do some gentle stretching every day too. Walking outdoors whenever possible also helps maintain adequate vitamin D levels.
- Maintain a healthy diet and drink plenty of water. Don’t use colder weather (and bulkier clothing) as an excuse to eat fatty, high calorie foods. Continue to eat plenty of veggies and fruits but choose warm soups and stews in addition to salads and room temperature foods. Adequate hydration keeps joints lubricated and flexible.
In short, changes in weather as the seasons change may cause increased joint pain, especially in individuals prone to such pain. “Keep warm – keep moving” is good advice, but if the pain becomes severe and difficult to manage, call or visit one of the health care professionals at Integrity Urgent Care today. Our four convenient locations are open every day from 8 am to 8 pm and appointments are never necessary.
Arthritis Foundation. Your local weather [online]. [Accessed 25 Oct 2018]. https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/tools-resources/weather/
Bhandagey P (PT). practo. Joint pain on weather change (The effects of change in seasons on joint paint) [online]. 30 Aug 2016 [Accessed 25 Oct 2018]. https://www.practo.com/healthfeed/joint-pain-on-weather-change-the-effects-of-change-in-seasons-on-joint-pain-24286/post
Robinson KM. Your rheumatoid arthritis when the season changes. WebMD [online]. Reviewed 15 Dec 2016 [Accessed 26 Oct 2018]. https://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/features/ra-pain-changing-seasons#2