Does the Weather Really Affect Your Joints?
People say you can feel the weather in your bones, but is that possible? The sky is clear, but grandma is rubbing her elbow and claiming it’s getting ready to rain. You might think it is an old wives’ tale, but grandma always seemed to be right for a reason. Joint pain is a pretty good indicator that the weather is about to change. It is not just rain that brings on the pain, either – a drop in temperature can lead to flare-ups as well.
The current theory among scientists regarding joint pain and weather involves atmospheric pressure. Low air pressure often precedes a sudden drop in temperature or rain, and that is the most likely cause of grandma’s elbow throb. If you have arthritis, chances are that you too fall victim to barometric pressure — but what causes it, and what can you do about it?
What Is Arthritis?
If you feel that itch as the weather starts to change, it’s safe to say you have arthritis or swelling in the joints. For most people, arthritis is an age-related condition caused by the wearing down of cartilage – the slippery tissue that protects the bones in your joints. Arthritis Research UK estimates around 8.75 million people in the country suffer from this form of arthritis – one-third of them are over the age of 45, and over half of them are older than 75.
There are other types of arthritis, too, such as gout, and weather sensitivity is common in all types of arthritis.
Why the Weather Matters
It sounds far-fetched, but the weather affects joint pain due to a drop in atmospheric pressure, often referred to as barometric pressure. The low pressure affects joint pain by changing the viscosity of synovial fluid and by affecting the inflammatory mediators.
Synovial fluid is what keeps joints moving smoothly. As the pressure drops, the fluid becomes thicker, and the joint gets creakier. Synovial fluid is much like oil that lubricates an engine. When it gets cold outside, the oil becomes thicker, and the engine sputters before starting. When that synovial fluid thickens up, the joint becomes less flexible, which increases inflammation.
Low pressure also pushes against body tissue, causing irritation that leads to inflammation. Areas prone to chronic pain are more sensitive to this irritation. You may also feel the change in weather around scars and healing injuries.
How to Minimise the Impact of Weather on Your Joints
People living in the UK know a little bit about the cold, rainy weather that affects joint pain, but what can you do about it? You can’t always plan for sudden changes in the weather, so the best choice is to try to manage the pain when it does happen by:
- Increasing your pain medication
- Taking steps to keep joints warm by turning up the heat and dressing in layers
- Putting your clothes in the dryer for a few minutes to warm them up before going to bed
- Asking your physician about compression stockings if the pain is in your knees or another type of constrictive garment if it is in your hands or elbows
- Applying a glucosamine cream to the affected area to help manually warm the joint
Break the problem into bite-sized pieces and handle each one separately. Start with pain management via drug therapy and then focus on reducing the inflammation by warming up and supporting the joint. Adding a few key dietary supplements to improve joint health may help keep your joints flexible and less prone to inflammation. Glucosamine HCL 1500mg tablets provide you with a vital substance that improves the health of joints and connective tissue, for example.
There isn’t much you can do about a drop in barometric pressure, but the joint pain you feel will pass. Your best bet is to take supplements that improve joint mobility and to find ways to keep your joints warm until the weather improves.
Mayo Clinic, Arthritis
WebMD, Does Weather Affect Joint Pain?, Katherine Kam
Arthritis Research UK, Osteoarthritis
Writer Bio: Darla F is a full-time freelance writer and healthcare professional who specializes in helping agencies meet their goals by developing creative and engaging content.
- Darla Ferrara