How Weather Changes Affect Your Joints
Before even looking at the local weather report, you can feel it — deep pain radiating through your joints and knees. It’s been a rumor for several decades that unexpected temperature drops or rainy afternoons can worsen arthritis and joint pain, but is this theory actually true? Many doctors believe there’s a connection between changing weather conditions and joint pain, but there’s little research to help explain why this phenomenon occurs.
How Cold Weather May Affect Arthritis and Joint Pain
Scientists have determined that barometric pressure — the pressure of the air itself — often causes joint pain, but experts haven’t quite figured out how other weather conditions like cool temperatures, rain and humidity can aggravate arthritis. Currently, there isn’t much conclusive evidence to develop solid theories, but two common ideas revolve around changes in barometric pressure:
- Worn, Damaged Cartilage: When you have arthritis, the cartilage that helps cushion the bones inside of a joint has been worn away, exposing the nerves in the bones. These unprotected nerves may be more sensitive to changes in barometric pressure, causing pain.
- Expanding and Contracting Tendons: Another idea is that when the barometric pressure in your area changes, it causes the tendons, muscles and scar tissue to expand and contract, radiating to the joints affected by arthritis. As these tendons shift, it can cause additional arthritis-related pain.
While researchers are still surveying those with joint and arthritis pain, there’s not much conclusive evidence on how exactly cool, wet weather can accentuate joint pain, or if it actually affects arthritis symptoms at all.
Easing Weather-Related Joint Pain
Many who experience joint pain as the weather drops recommend finding relief in a warmer climate. But if you can’t pack up and relocate to a more tropical location for the entire winter season, there are still plenty of things you can do to reduce arthritis symptoms and joint pain.
As the temperature cools, keep these tips in mind:
- Stay Warm: Take regular warm showers, keep the thermostat comfortable and dress in layers to avoid getting too chilly.
- Run a Paraffin Bath: A paraffin bath is a machine that melts paraffin wax. Once the wax has melted, dip your hands and feet in and then let it completely harden over your skin. The heat from the wax helps soothe aching joints.
- Stay Active and Healthy: Always eat healthy and well-balanced meals and try to stay active by stretching and engaging in low-impact sports like yoga or swimming.
- Avoid Excessive Strain: Try not to lift bulky and heavy items that may cause joint pain later.
- Consult With Your Doctor: If you have trouble keeping your arthritis pain at bay, talk with your doctor about being prescribed pain medications that will reduce discomfort.
Contact Spine Institute of North America Today
When the temperature drops, do you notice more pain radiating from your joints? If so, don’t hesitate to reach out to the helpful and extensively trained medical experts at Spine Institute of North America. We specialize in alleviating joint and back pain for residents throughout the East Windsor, NJ, area and we’ll work with you to find the cause of your pain and develop effective solutions to keep your pain at bay, even on the chilliest winter days.
To learn more about our medical services, call us today at 609-371-9100 or fill out our online form to schedule an appointment.
This content was medically reviewed by Baher Yanni, M.D, on July 10th, 2019.