People With Arthritis Often Notice A Connection Between Humidity Or Temperature And Joint Pain Symptoms Heres What You Need To Know
Elisabetta Mercuri knows when its going to rain. My joints get achy, especially in my hands, she says. And when its cold and wet, the symptoms are even worse. It almost feels like theres ice in my fingers because they are so stiff, says Elisabetta, who has lived with psoriatic arthritis for close to four decades. And as Ive gotten older, my joints feel the weather changes even more.
Elisabetta is far from alone: Patients often say they can tell when its going to rain based on how their joints feel, says Anne R. Bass, MD, rheumatologist at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. Humidity seems to be the biggest culprit, but we actually dont know why.
Theres the rub: People with arthritis often notice a connection between humidity or temperature and joint pain symptoms, and may even report it to their doctors. Its a complaint Brett Smith, DO, a rheumatologist with East Tennessee Medical Group, hears often.
Patients note that certain weather changes tend to produce more stiffness, more aching and more pain, he says. They feel their body is a weather machine that can predict when its going to rain or when a cold front is coming.
More recently, our parent organization, the Global Healthy Living Foundation, presented findings from an observational study at the American College of Rheumatologys annual meeting in 2018. Results showed a correlation between various weather patterns and peoples self-reported symptoms, but the link was not strong.
What Kind Of Weather
Several studies have tried to pinpoint the kind of weather changes that affect joint pain, but the findings are all over the map.
In one survey of 200 people with osteoarthritis in their knee, researchers found that every 10-degree drop in temperature — as well as low barometric pressure –corresponded to a rise in arthritis pain. More recently, however, a Dutch study of 222 people with osteoarthritis of the hip found that over 2 years, people said their pain and stiffness got worse with rising barometric pressure and humidity.
Another group of researchers took a look at medical records of more than 11 million Medicare visits and matched dates to local weather reports. They didnât see any link between weather changes and joint pain at all. Two recent Australian studies — one on knee pain and one on lower back pain — also found no connection to weather change.
But even though the science isnât clear, flare-ups when the weather turns are very real for many people with joint pain. Some peopleâs bodies may just be more sensitive to changes in the weather. Many people say they find relief in warmer climates, but again, thereâs no scientific proof that it will ease your aches.
Why Does Rain Bring Joint Pain
One of the most frequently upheld theories is related to the influence of barometric pressure on the body. When it rains, barometric pressure falls. Your body senses this decrease in pressure, which can cause soft tissue like muscles and tendons to expand and contract. This can lead to increased pressure on the joints, causing nerve irritation and subsequent joint pain. If the cartilage that protects the bone has degenerated or become worn down, like is common with arthritis, the bones may be more exposed and make the nerves more sensitive to changes in pressure. If the temperature is colder, this can further exacerbate symptoms, as lower temperatures can make the fluid within the joints thicker and contribute to a feeling of stiffness. Another consideration outside of the physiological realm is that on a rainy day, you are more likely to stay indoors. Although this keeps you dry, it can also keep you from moving as much as you normally would, and that inactivity can result in stiff and achy joints.
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How Weather May Affect Joints
Scientists have done many studies on joint pain and weather over the years, but so far, none can say for sure what the connection is. Part of the problem is the studies themselves — many have used surveys of just a small number of people, which isnât a very reliable way to measure a link.
Still, there are a few theories about the relationship. One is that people with joint pain, especially arthritis, may be sensitive to changes in barometric pressure. How? It could be that when the cartilage that cushions the bones inside a joint is worn away, nerves in the exposed bones might pick up on changes in pressure.
Another idea: Changes in barometric pressure may make your tendons, muscles, and any scar tissue expand and contract, and that can create pain in joints affected by arthritis. Low temperatures can also make the fluid inside joints thicker, so they feel stiffer.
You might also feel more pain when the weather keeps you from moving around as much as you typically do. People tend to stay indoors and lounge around more when itâs cold and rainy outside, and inactive joints can get stiff and painful.
How Can You Reduce Knee Pain During Cold Weather
If the cold makes your knees hurt, you may be able to manage with the above techniques.
Stay Active the more you move, the less likely your joints will stiffen up. Yes we know its winter, and its not particularly motivating to exercise, but it will help to keep your joints supple.
Keep Warm ensuring that you warm up properly is key. The better your blood circulation around your knees, the less likely they will be affected by the cold. We recommend dynamic stretching such as moving lunges and squats to help get your heart and limbs warmed up. Also wear warm clothing when you exercise outdoors, especially on your legs. While we all get warm once we start exercising, it is important to keep your joints are cosy from the moment you go outside.
Prevent Swelling if your knee swells up after exercise, make sure you take the time to rest, ice and elevate it as much as possible to reduce the swelling. If you get ongoing swelling during or after exercise, you should seek medical advice.
Take Pain Medication NSAIDs such as ibuprofen can help to reduce pain and inflammation counteracting the effects of cold.
While these techniques can help with cold-related knee pain, if you have had an injury to your knee, or you suspect you may have rheumatoid or osteoarthritis, the best thing you can do is get an accurate diagnosis.
For more information or to book an appointment with our team of highly experienced knee specialists, contact Capital Orthopaedics today.
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Does Where I Live Matter
If damp cold weather exacerbates pain, you may wonder why not move to where the weather is milder, warmer or dryer? Some researchers say climate doesnt matter.
In the U.S. for example, where different regions have varied weather and climate types, one study found that even people in mild, moderate San Diego reported weather-related pain. In fact, they reported more pain than residents of the studys three colder U.S. cities: Nashville, Boston and Worcester, Massachusetts.
Chronic pain doesnt care where you live, says Dr. Bolash. Humidity and barometric pressure tends to change everywhere.
Does Heat And Humidity Make Joint Pain Worse
As we head into the Arizona monsoon season, you may be finding you have more trouble with joint pain.
Many people with arthritis find they have more stiffness and pain as the humidity rises and barometric pressure dropsas can happen before a monsoon storm. This may be because changes in temperature and humidity change the level of fluid in our joints.
In addition, the extreme Arizona heat alone can aggravate pain, simply by placing more stress on the body and making us more irritable and sensitive to discomfort.
Becoming dehydrated, which can happen quickly in the heat, can make things even worse because our joints need fluid to move smoothly.
What can you do to stay as comfortable as possible until things cool off? Try these tips.
If youre struggling with joint pain, the medical professionals at OrthoArizona can work with you to get back to enjoying the activities you love.
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Why Does My Knee Hurt After Surgery When It Rains
There are a few reasons why your knee might hurt after surgery when it rains. One reason could be that the weather is changing and causing your knee to swell. Another reason could be that the rain is making your scars more tender. Lastly, it is also possible that the rain is simply aggravating your pain. If your knee is bothering you, it is best to consult with your doctor to find out the cause.
My Knee Hurts When It Rains
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How To Reduce Weather
Its not necessary for you to move to a tropical climate to avoid this kind of pain. Use these ideas to get relief from weather-induced joint pain:
- Keep yourself warm: When the external temperature drops, take a warm shower to stay warm. Wear warm socks and gloves. Dress in layers in the daytime and increase the heat in your home at night or sleep with an electric blanket.
- Stay active: Use exercises like yoga, Pilates, and swimming, which put less pressure on the joints, to build up muscle strength.
- Begin exercise gradually: When you want to exercise or jog outdoors, start with stretches that will warm up your muscles first.
- Stay hydrated: When youre dehydrated, your sensitivity to pain increases.
If you expect aches and pains due to pending weather, be proactive. Talk to your orthopedist about taking anti-inflammatory medication. You can also use glucosamine to reduce joint stiffness.
Why Do My Knees Hurt When The Weather Changes
Low barometric pressure causes your tissues to swell and irritate sensitive nerves in your body. It creates pain in your joints by causing your muscles, tendons, and scar tissue to contract and expand.
People who experience joint pain, stiffness, and aches on rainy or cold days are more likely to report it. The amount of rain falls as a result of a drop in barometric pressure, which is a measure of air mass. Low barometrometer pressure can cause tissues to swell and irritate nerves. When the weather cools off, its best to keep yourself warm. Furthermore, low temperatures can thicken the fluid in your joints, causing them to feel stiff and more sensitive. If you are feeling down psychologically, you are more likely to feel physically down. When you are sad or depressed, you may be more likely to believe in pain.
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Tips To Relieve Joint Pain
- Manage Weight People who are overweight or obese can reduce the joint pain intensity by losing their weight. The weight you put on forms a large pressure on your joints thus increasing pain sensation.
- Quit Smoking Smoking causes stress on connective tissues which leads to increased pain.
- Exercise Do low impact exercises to improve flexibility of the joints.
- Consult your doctor about joint pain relief medications.
- Apply ice packs and hot compresses to aching joints
- Acupuncture and massage can also help relieve pain
- Eat healthy foods rich in vitamins, particularly foods with Omega-3 fatty acids.
How Can You Treat Weather
When the weather changes overnight, and you wake up to an extra ache in your joints, there are a few tricks to keep in your back pocketparticularly for people with osteoarthritis. That said, if you have rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, or another inflammatory form of arthritis, you likely already have a treatment plan in place for flare-ups, which may involve a course of corticosteroids prescribed by your doctor. Of course, these tips can still be helpful in addition to your prescription medications but talk with your doctor first. Here are a few things to try, according to the CDC:
- A stash of over-the-counter pain relievers, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help tame unexpected weather-related joint pain. These can take the edge off, at least until that barometric pressure has a chance to rise. If thats not doing the trick, you can always talk with your doctor about a prescription-strength option to get that arthritis pain relief.
- Gentle physical activity, such as yoga or range of motion exercises, can help ease pain and stiffness.
- Physical therapy gives you the tools to practice at home consistently, which can be helpful to ward off flare-ups and reduce pain when you do have one.
- Practicing grounding techniques, like deep breathing, can help take your focus away from anxious thoughts or feeling down when the weather is to blame for aches and pains.
Q What Causes Pain In The Finger Joints
A. Imagine your fingers aching every time you use them. That could be awful. You cannot push a key on your laptop, complete a message on your Android phone, hit those guitar chords, thoroughly and thoroughly clean your body or the plate you used last night..
Why Your Knees Might Be Hurting
But the fact is, plenty of people who have arthritis in their joints do feel more pain when its cold or rainy. Changes in barometric pressure may make your tendons, muscles, and any scar tissue around the joint expand and contract, creating pain in joints affected by arthritis, says Dr. Fredericson. Low temperatures can also thicken synovial fluid in the joints, making them feel achy.
Synovial fluid is essentially 10w-40 for our joints. It allows them to glide and move with smoothness and efficiency during rotation, flexion, and extension, says Bryant. So if that synovial fluid thickens, it makes sense that your joints feel more stiff.
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Why Does My Knee Replacement Hurt When It Rains
Why does my knee replacement hurt when it rains? Its a question that many people who have had the surgery ask. There are a few reasons why this might be the case. One possibility is that the change in barometric pressure can cause pain in the joint. Another reason might be that the cold weather can make the joint stiff and painful. Finally, it is also possible that the wet weather can make the wound around the knee joint sore. If you are experiencing pain in your knee replacement when it rains, talk to your doctor to find out what might be causing it.
Many people claim that extreme weather causes them to feel more pain. According to a study, 67% of people with osteoarthritis believe that the weather causes their pain. Rain and other changes in the weather are thought to be associated with knee pain in some people, but not in others. The nerve endings of pressure-sensitive nerves in the knee are exposed as a result of the destruction of cartilage and tissues around the knee. This increases the sensitivity of these nerves, resulting in pain. The increased humidity in the air causes the tissues in the knee joint to swell. There are numerous theories about why people with osteoarthritis experience pain when it rains.
The majority of replacement joints are not painful during the cooling season, but they can be stiff and sensitive. These sensations, even if not ideal, are normal. It is simple to keep your joints strong without having to book a tropical vacation.
Arthritis Pain Relief Tips For Winter Weather
Dress warmly, work out inside, and get enough vitamin D. These are some of the ways you can get arthritis pain relief despite the bone-chilling cold of winter weather.
Alamy Getty Images Corbis, Getty Images
Many people with arthritis swear by the pain in their joints as a predictor of rainy or cold weather. I used to hear people complain all the time that they knew rain was coming from the aching in their knees, says Pam Snow, 54, of Denver, who has arthritis. Now Im one of those people!
Snow has osteoarthritis in both knees. She typically manages her pain with exercise, diet, weight loss, and the occasional over-the-counter pain reliever, but when winter weather sets in, Snow faces an extra joint-pain challenge. I think its related to barometric pressure, she says. It definitely has made me more cognizant of the weather.
For Snow, arthritis isnt just a personal problem. As vice president for community involvement for the Colorado Arthritis Foundation, she travels the state educating others about the condition. So she’s aware that there’s very little scientific evidence to support her own experience, and that of the legions of others with arthritis who feel worse when the weather is frightful.
Why Weather Only Affects Some People
Why does the weather only affect some people with chronic pain? One reason might be the level of pain you experience. This could happen at both ends of the spectrum. If your pain is fairly light, or very severe, small changes might not be noticeable. Still, the more logical reason for the difference may have to do with nerve endings.
When nerves are compressed, they become more sensitive. So, if a nerve ending is located in an area that changes with pressure, then you might notice the changes in weather more. On the other hand, someone with nerve endings in a more stable body part might not feel the changes as dramatically.
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