How Weather Impacts Arthritis
The weather has many ways of indirectly affecting people with health conditions. Rainy, cold, overcast weather can affect those with depression. When pollen counts are high asthma or sinus infections may be worse. When bad weather is on the way, many who suffer from arthritis report they experience pain.
There is more than one theory as to why some people seem to experience pain when the weather changes but one of the more popular theories has to do with the barometric pressure. The weight of the surrounding atmosphere is referred to as barometric pressure. The theory is that high barometric pressure pushes on a person’s body preventing joints from expanding but right before bad weather shows up the barometric pressure drops off. The lower pressure lets up on the body and its tissues thus allowing inflamed tissues to swell and when they do, the surrounding tissues place pressure onto nearby joints and nerves often causing pain. Another theory maintains that colder weather may lower pain thresholds for some.
Some studies show that certain aspects related to the weather may increase arthritic pain. One specific study revealed that for each 10 degree drop in temperature pain increased in arthritis sufferers. Low temperatures, precipitation (rain or snow), and a rather low barometric pressure reading caused an increase in pain as well. The study suggested that specific atmospheric situations may promote swelling within the joint capsule.
The good news is that weather changes are temporary and there are steps that can be taken to help alleviate discomfort and pain from arthritis. Here are some ways to prevent the weather from putting a damper on the day.
Take time to move. Keep joints loose. Exercise them before going out into cold or wet weather to prevent stiffness.
Minimize swelling by wearing snug but stretchy gloves while sleeping to prevent fluid from surrounding joints in the hands.
Use heating pads to ease painful joints. Stay warm by dressing in layers or sleeping with a hot water bottle or heating pad.
For many it is still debatable whether the weather has affects on medical conditions. No matter the climate or weather, relief can still be sought with the above tips. Remember to keep those joints moving.
Does Weather Affect Arthritis Pain? John Hopkins Health alerts.com. 17 Nov. 2005. 8Apr. 2013.
Kam, Katherine. “Does Weather Affect joint Pain?” WebMD.com. 21 Mar. 2012. 4 Apr. 2013.