It’s going to rain today! I can tell because the pain in my joints tells me.
Does your body hurt when the weather changes? Can you feel that it is going to rain even before you hear the weather report? If so, you are not alone. Is there a scientific reason for this or is it just a myth that we all believe?
I have Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, so joint pain is not out of the norm, but I know that when it is rainy or cold, my joints will ache more than usual. I often get a debilitating headache when there are severe thunderstorms in the forecast. If you ask me, there is a connection between the pain and the weather, but research seems to be inconclusive.
A 2017 study suggests that there is no correlation between rainy days and joint or back pain. So why do my joints seem to hurt more when the weather is bad? A Harvard Health blog reports a minor correlation between the weather and pain, but it theorizes that barometric pressure or changes in the weather or humidity may be the causes.
According to Psychology Today, a drop in barometric pressure can impact our bodies in the following ways:
- Cold temperatures can lessen blood flow to the muscles, causing some stiffness.
- Being less active on bad weather days causes less blood flow to the muscles.
- Less blood flow means toxins from muscles are not being flushed as well.
- Seasonal depression can impact chronic pain.
So, what can we do about the pain? Here are some things that may help:
- Warm up the joint that hurts with a heating pad or keep the whole body warm.
- Exercise or stretch before you go outside; be sure to talk to your doctor before doing any exercise.
- Avoid unnecessary strain during daily activities.
- Maintain a healthy weight to decrease strain on joints, especially the knees.
- Be sure to get enough sleep.
The good news is that when the weather improves, so should the joint pain.
It seems that even though the rain doesn’t exactly cause the joint or back pain, we could say that the symptoms might be weather-related, at least they appear to be for me. I know that my joints can usually tell when the pressure is changing and rain is coming.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Note: Charcot-Marie-Tooth News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Charcot-Marie-Tooth News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Charcot-Marie-Tooth.
Jill Price is a fourth grade teacher and a mom to a teenage son. She was diagnosed with CMT 1a at the age of 2. Jill loves to travel and enjoys spending time with her family and friends. ×
Jill Price is a fourth grade teacher and a mom to a teenage son. She was diagnosed with CMT 1a at the age of 2. Jill loves to travel and enjoys spending time with her family and friends.
- My knee is aching so its going to rain
- About Tasha
- Why does my knee hurt when it rains?
- Why Humidity & Rain Affects Arthritis & How to Stop Weather Pains
- Does Weather Affect Arthritis? Understanding Barometric Pressure and Pain
- Spring Rain & Arthritis Pain: Changes in Barometric Pressure and Joint Pain
- Summer Humidity & Arthritis Pain
- Managing Weather Aches & Barometric Pressure Pains
- REFERENCES for ARTHRITIS AND WEATHER
- Why Your Body Aches When It Rains
- Why Does My Body Ache When It Rains?
- Why Does My Arthritis Hurt When It Rains?
- How to Reduce Weather-Induced Joint Pain
- Do You Want to Know How to Permanently Prevent Joint Pains Due to Rain?
- 3 Ways to Relieve Achy Joints – Even in Winter
- Does Rain Cause Pain? And What to Do About It
My knee is aching so its going to rain
I remember being amazed by my uncle. He has arthritis in his knees and as a small child I was fascinated by his ‘psychic knees’. And by ‘psychic’ I am really describing the situation where he would look at me and knowingly state, “It’s going to rain…my knees are aching.” And then it would! How did his knees know? What aspects of weather could possibly be influencing his knees? Pressure? Humidity? Overall temperature? The dreary knowledge that if it rains he won’t get the crops in?
My uncle certainly isn’t alone. It’s estimated that anywhere from 50-100% of people with a painful condition report that their pain is influenced by the weather (1,2,3) – particularly changes in the weather. Some people report that their pain increases prior to a weather change, some report pain increases during a weather change, and some after. So if so many people report it, it must exist, right? Well, that is what Gier Smedslund and Kare Hagen aimed to find out. They recently published a systematic review that evaluated the relationship between weather (atmospheric and solar variables) and pain reports in people with rheumatoid arthritis.(4) They did loads of searching, lots of reading, and plenty of discussing and came up with 9 studies that met their eligibility criteria.
Their results were surprising to say the least. Despite heaps of anecdotal evidence supporting the relationship between pain and atmospheric variables, at the group level, there was no relationship at all between reported pain and the weather. This included pooling data from numerous studies for the variables of temperature, relative humidity, and for atmospheric pressure. There were 2 studies in the review(5,6) that analysed data at an individual level and they found that 16% and 11% of participants had increased pain with changes in temperature (some with increased temperatue, some with decreased) and 6% and 11% of participants were sensitive to changes in relative humidity (again, some sensitive to increased humidity and vice versa). These percentages are still miles away from the 60-100% of people who say their pain is affected by the weather!
So what could explain these results? Well, the authors provide some possible alternatives and I’ve added a few of my own.
First, there were some limitations to the included studies in the review – it was unclear in pretty much all the studies whether the atmospheric readouts (while great because they are standardised around the world) were measured at the same time as pain. Or should pain have been measured before and after? Further, it is also unclear how close (physically) or how relevant the recorded weather variables were to where the participants actually lived or to what they actually do in a day (ie, did they even go outside or did they stay in a temperature controlled house).
Second, is it possible that the variability in individual responses to the same weather variable (ie, some people have more pain with increased temperature and vice versa) cancelled each other out in the group level analyses, resulting in little to no correlation between weather and pain?
Or third, is our anecdotal evidence that pain is related to weather actually capturing something else? Perhaps we are falling under the trickery of cognitive mis-attribution (ie, we believe that pain is related to rain, so that we really take notice of all days where the pain has increased and it is raining but we tend to forget those days where we have an increase in pain but it is not raining)? Or perhaps it is mood-related. Is it the combination of weather change plus a bad mood or negative affect that is causing the increase in pain? Last, perhaps it is bio-physiological (not to be confused with bio-psychosocial). Is there something physiologically that is occurring during weather changes?
The authors identify a couple of studies that evaluate pain following controlled changes in temperature, humidity, and pressure using a controlled-climate chamber.(7,8) I would be fascinated to see more research in this area. Perhaps include some manipulations of patient expectation, some sham changes in atmospheric variables, and some manipulation of mood and affect, all while we directly control the ‘weather conditions’. It’s always nice to round out the physiological response data before we throw a theory away.
At the end of the day, based on this review, there is no evidence that changes in atmospheric variables influence pain in rheumatoid arthritis. However, I’m a little hesitant to tell that to my uncle’s ‘psychic knees’ before I know a little more.
Tasha Stanton is a postdoctoral research fellow working with the Body in Mind Research Group both in Adelaide (at University of South Australia) and in Sydney (at Neuroscience Research Australia). Tash has done a bit of hopping around in her career, from studying physio in her undergrad, to spinal biomechanics in her Master’s, to clinical epidemiology in her PhD, and now to clinical neuroscience in her postdoc. Amazingly, there has been a common thread through all this hopping and that common thread is pain. What is pain? Why do we have it? And why doesn’t it go away? Tasha got herself one of the very competitive Canadian IHR post-doctoral fellowships and is establishing her own line of very interesting investigations. Her research interests lie in understanding the neuroscience behind pain and its clinical implications. She also really likes nifty experiments that may have no clinical value yet, but whose coolness factor tops the charts. Last, Tash is a bit mad about running, enjoying a good red with friends and organizing theme parties. Tasha, aka Stanton Deliver, was the all round best performer at the Inaugural BiM Table Tennis Comp.
Here is Tasha talking more about what she does and a link to her published research.
We have put BiM author’s downloadable PDFs here.
1. Hendler NH, Jamison RN, Morrison CH, Piper JK, Kahn Z. The relationship of diagnoses and weather sensitivity in chronic pain patients. J Neuromusculoskelet Syst 1995; 3:10-5.
5. Dequeker J, & Wuestenraed L (1986). The effect of biometeorological factors on Ritchie articular index and pain in rheumatoid arthritis. Scandinavian journal of rheumatology, 15 (3), 280-4 PMID: 3798044
7. Hollander JL. The controlled-climate chamber for the study of the effects of meteorological changes on human diseases. Trans NY Acad Sci 1961;24:167-72.
8. Hollander JL, Yeostros S. The effect of simultaneous variations of humidity and barometric pressure on arthritis. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 1963;44:489-94.
Why does my knee hurt when it rains?
Posted on April 16, 2015 | by Catherine Nicholson
Do your joints predict the weather better than any meteorologist? Can you feel a storm coming in your knees?
Well, you are not alone. Your joints may actually hurt more when the weather changes. There is scientific validity to this phenomenon. The reason involves some pretty simple physics. There is pressure inside and outside of your joints. Normally when the outside pressure changes, a healthy joint is able to adjust the pressure inside the joint relatively easily. Unfortunately, when your joint becomes arthritic, it is harder for the pressure to equalize. Similar to trying to clear your ears when flying if you are congested……not a fun thing to do. Stormy weather is usually accompanied by a low pressure weather system. As the outside (ambient) pressure starts to decrease when the weather system approaches, your arthritic joints are not as easily able to equalize to the new ambient pressure. As a result, there is a relatively higher pressure inside the joint compared to outside of the joint. This results in increased tension on the tissues, hence increased pain. You may have also noticed similar episodes during altitude changes when flying or when SCUBA diving.
While you can not reverse arthritic changes that have already occurred, it is possible to decrease the stress on the joint and slow down the progression of the arthritis. Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising frequently. This will result in an overall better quality of life with less pain.
Last modified: November 7, 2019
Why Humidity & Rain Affects Arthritis & How to Stop Weather Pains
Does Weather Affect Arthritis? Understanding Barometric Pressure and Pain
In many places, spring is known as a time for rain, and summer is a time for humidity. Both of these seasons can be challenging for arthritis sufferers because the weather has a significant impact on how the joints feel and perform.
Studies have revealed contradictory evidence about why the connection between weather and arthritis exists. However, many people notice undeniable changes in how they feel depending on what’s going on outside.
This article provides an explanation about why humidity and rain affect arthritis symptoms and how arthritis sufferers can find relief.
With a better understanding of how weather affects pain and the connection between barometric pressure and pain, individuals may be able to manage symptoms better and live the lives they want.
Spring Rain & Arthritis Pain: Changes in Barometric Pressure and Joint Pain
Many research studies have pointed to changes in temperature and barometric pressure as causes for arthritis pain.1,2,3 Both rising and falling barometric pressure have been linked to arthritis symptoms. However, low barometric pressure, especially when it occurs just before a storm, often means that arthritis sufferers experience uncomfortable pressure in their joints. Back pain and knee pain are particularly common among people who experience arthritis pain before storms arrive.
But to the contrary, arthritis patients who move to dry climates rarely experience total relief after leaving wet and humid places.6 There is no definite scientific consensus as to why weather affects arthritis pain, but there is a good chance that symptoms will travel along wherever an individual decides to move to.
Summer Humidity & Arthritis Pain
Similarly, many arthritis sufferers report feeling more arthritis pain when the air is filled with humidity. This could be because the body’s tendons, ligaments, and muscles expand when humidity rises and barometric pressure drops.4
Some studies also show that high humidity levels can cause sweating and dehydration which can make the blood thicker, which increases blood pressure in the blood vessels and makes the body work more to pump blood through the body.5,6 Humid days can also cause the body to become dehydrated, which can decrease the concentration of fluid around the joints and create more joint pain.6
Managing Weather Aches & Barometric Pressure Pains
Unfortunately, arthritis symptoms will likely persist no matter what the weather conditions are or what climate one lives in. It is important to stay well-hydrated, especially if the weather is rainy or humid, to keep the joints internally lubricated. It may seem that outside moisture would find its way into the body, but that is not necessarily the case.
In a similar way, swimming is a great exercise for arthritis sufferers to loosen up sore joints despite the weather.7 Swimming laps at an indoor pool or joining a water therapy program8,9 can make a huge difference for arthritis sufferers during rainy and humid seasons. It may seem counter intuitive to immerse the body in water when excess moisture in the air may be causing symptoms to worsen. But low-impact exercises like swimming can actually make a big difference for a joint’s range of motion over time. For immediate relief, over-the-counter arthritis creams like JointFlex can help arthritis sufferers enjoy the changing of seasons with less pain and discomfort. Individuals who suffer from weather-related arthritis symptoms should contact their doctors to discuss over-the-counter treatment options.
REFERENCES for ARTHRITIS AND WEATHER
JOINTFLEX® PAIN RELIEF CREAM
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Though many people believe in the connection between weather and health, the medical evidence is unclear.
Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario
Many of us have an older relative who claims to have an arthritic joint with the power to tell the future, at least meteorologically. She will stare out the window on a perfectly pleasant, sunny day, distractedly rubbing her painful shoulder, and proclaim solemnly, “A storm’s a comin’.”
She’s hardly alone in her belief. The idea that certain painful health conditions are affected by the weather is both widespread and ancient, dating back to at least Hippocrates in the fourth century B.C and no doubt earlier, according to James N. Weisberg, PhD, a psychologist who specializes in treating painful conditions.
But despite the venerable pedigree of the belief, should we ditch our Doppler radar and our well-groomed television meteorologists and replace them with Achy Joint Bulletins issued by our great aunts?
Probably not. Although many believe in the connection between weather and health, most medical studies have come up with equivocal support at best. So if there isn’t a connection, or if the connection is relatively unimportant, why do we believe in it so strongly?
As a science, human biometeorology studies the relationship between atmospheric conditions and people. There are of course all sorts of indisputable and obvious connections between weather and health, such as the incidence of sunstroke on hot days or frostbite on cold ones, according to Dennis Driscoll, emeritus professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M and a meteorologist who specializes in human biometeorology. There are also significant but less direct connections between weather and health, such as the onset of allergies during pollen season. In such cases, the atmospheric conditions are clearly affecting health, but they are playing more of a supportive role than a primary one, Driscoll says.
But some researchers are interested in looking at less direct potential connections between atmospheric conditions — like temperature, barometric pressure, and humidity — and painful conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and sinus or migraine headaches. The difference here is that the connections are not as obvious and the mechanism that would cause the symptom isn’t known.
There is a seemingly endless supply of anecdotal evidence backing up the belief that weather can affect painful conditions like arthritis — just ask some relatives at the next family picnic. Plenty of doctors see it as well.
“Most of my patients complain of pain on rainy days,” says Gary Botstein, a rheumatologist practicing in Decatur, Ga. “A lot of them can tell you if a storm is coming based on their pain.”
“Some of my patients are absolutely convinced of the connection,” Weisberg tells WebMD, “and they run the gamut from people who are physicians themselves to those who never got beyond the eighth grade.”
It’s important to stress that doctors and researchers do not believe that weather actually makes arthritis or any of these diseases worse. Instead, the idea is that weather can affect your symptoms. But why would changes in the weather cause pain? No one is entirely sure.
The suspect most often singled out by arthritis sufferers and researchers is a drop in barometric pressure, which is the pressure exerted by the air around us. A drop in barometric pressure often precedes a storm, and the theory goes that a decrease in the air pressure can cause the tissues around the joints to swell, causing arthritic pain. Proponents of the idea use a balloon in a barometric chamber as a simulator. If the pressure outside drops, the air in the balloon expands. If the same happened in the area around an arthritic joint, the expansion or swelling could irritate the nerves, causing pain.
“It could be that the sensitivity of the nerves is so highly tuned to barometric pressure that they can respond to even minor changes,” says Frances Wilder, PhD, an epidemiologist and the director of research at the Arthritis Research Institute of America in Clearwater, Fla.
However, it’s important to note that this process is entirely theoretical because the swelling — if it really is taking place — is happening on such a small scale that it cannot be detected by any scientific means. Since there is nothing that can be charted medically, study of the subject is reliant on subjective accounts of arthritic pain, which are hard to compare from one person to another.
“It’s not as if I’ve seen active changes in inflammation as a result of weather changes,” Botstein tells WebMD, “and there aren’t tests that would reflect such changes in inflammation on a day-to-day basis.”
Driscoll sees a problem with the barometric pressure theory. “People need to realize that the pressure changes associated with storms are rather small,” he says. In fact, he observes that the changes associated with a storm are about equivalent to what a person experiences in going up an elevator in a tall building. So far, there haven’t been many reports of people with arthritis hobbled by elevator rides in the medical literature.
Despite the widespread belief in the connection, looking over the scientific studies of the relationship between weather and health makes two things apparent: The literature doesn’t agree and there isn’t all that much of it.
“The subject of pain and weather greatly interests patients, and it’s amazing that it doesn’t interest more researchers or clinicians in the United States,” says Weisberg. “I have patients who talk about it with me every day.”
Part of the reason for the lack of interest in this country probably lies in the fact that the studies haven’t turned up much. Wilder and Weisberg themselves have both independently worked on studies that didn’t show any striking connection.
“We have a problem here in the field of human biometeorology because so much of it is conditioned by what amount to old wives’ tales and ancient beliefs that by and large have not been corroborated by scientific investigation,” says Driscoll. “The weather has been blamed for everything from heart attack to hangnail.”
Weisberg is similarly skeptical. “Everyone believes in this connection throughout the ages, but there doesn’t seem to be real evidence for it,” he says. “There have been anecdotal studies, a few case reports, a smattering of literature here and there. Interest in the subject perks up occasionally and then dies down when nothing is found.”
There has been some work that showed a possible connection. Believers typically cite a famous study conducted in Philadelphia in the ’60s by researcher John Hollander. In the study, Hollander isolated several patients with rheumatoid arthritis in a sealed chamber and gradually adjusted the atmospheric conditions. He found some evidence that swelling and stiffness increased with a rise in humidity and a drop in barometric pressure.
So since most studies of the connection between painful conditions and weather have not found meaningful results, why do people keep coming back to it?
Part of the problem with studying the relationship between weather and health is in the sheer number of possible atmospheric conditions — including barometric pressure, temperature, humidity, precipitation, and so on — and in the possible symptoms. There’s also a great deal of difference in how people say they feel the weather relates to their pain. Some say the pain precedes a weather change, others say that they coincide, and still others say that it follows them. The variety of combinations may be one of the reasons that researchers keep returning to the subject. There’s always that chance that the right combination of conditions or symptoms haven’t been studied.
“I think the fact that this ‘myth’ has persisted far longer than many others makes me wonder if there really is something to it,” says Wilder, whose recent study did not turn up any statistically meaningful connections between osetoarthritis and weather changes. “I think it’s possible science hasn’t caught up with the anecdotal evidence.”
But Wilder agrees that the evidence is shaky and that other explanations are possible.
A Psychological Explanation
There are other possibilities for the apparent connection between weather and pain. For instance, Driscoll and Weisberg argue that people may tend toward gloominess on rainy days, and that their bad mood may make their pain more difficult to bear.
The possibility that psychology plays a role in shaping our responses to weather and pain doesn’t mean that the pain isn’t real or that weather isn’t having an effect.. Weisberg speculates about the numerous indirect connections that could be made between weather and health; for instance, might a gloomy day make people unhappy and stay in bed longer, causing them to feel more stiff?
There may be deeper psychological processes at work. Everyone’s been struck by a feeling of apparent clairvoyance when we happen to be thinking about an old friend who calls on the phone a few minutes later. What we don’t remember are the countless times that our reminiscing doesn’t result in that phone call.
Using this same logic, one instance of an arthritis flare-up coincidentally taking place before a storm might be all it takes for someone to become convinced that there is a direct connection between his or her symptoms and the weather.
“We want to find a reason for our pain, but sometimes we can’t,” says Weisberg. “And so the weather is one of the easiest things to blame.” All you have to do is look up to find your suspect.
Driscoll agrees. “If you convince yourself that there is a relationship between the weather and your pain, then by golly, there is one,” he tells WebMD. “As the barometer lowers, and the clouds approach, and the wind picks up, if you think that your arthritis ought to be acting up, it will.”
Although Weisberg is generally a skeptic, he finds the desire to believe in the connection very strong even in himself. “I try to tell my patients that there really isn’t evidence that weather has a big effect even if they think it does,” he says. “But it’s hard, because in the back of mind, there’s still this strong feeling that there really is something to it.”
The Silver Lining
Despite the failures by researchers to find a strong connection between weather and health, Driscoll notes that hope springs eternal. “And that’s sort of ironic, because we certainly don’t want the weather to be that effective in ordaining our illnesses,” he says.
Despite the disagreements, almost everyone concurs that the effects of weather on chronic pain conditions is mild at worst and nonexistent at best. Either way, it doesn’t matter that much.
Because of this, even if you have severe pain associated with the weather, experts recommend that you should be very careful before deciding to follow the folk wisdom and move to a climate that is drier and warmer. “I have patients who go down south for the winter and they feel great for the first few months,” says Weisberg. “But then their body acclimates to that weather pattern and they start feeling just like they did before.”
Besides, the possibility of environmental benefits to changing climates might be outweighed by the psychological stress — and the physical pain that might develop as a result of that stress — of reestablishing yourself in a new place, according to Wilder.
Weisberg and Driscoll offer some practical advice. “Since there’s not much people can do about the weather. They should just work on the things that they can change,” says Weisberg.
Driscoll agrees. “If weather has any influence at all on pain conditions, it’s a very small one,” he says. “And since we can’t do anything about it anyway, why worry about it?”
Published June 9, 2003.
SOURCES: Gary Botstein, MD, rheumatologist, Decatur, Ga.; board member, Georgia Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation. Dennis Driscoll, PhD, emeritus associate professor, department of atmospheric sciences, Texas A&M. Pain, 61, 1995. Pain, 81, 1999. Neuroscience Letters, 266, 1999. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, April 1996. Rheumatology, March 14, 2003. James N. Weisberg, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and anesthesiology, State University of New York, Stony Brook. Frances V. Wilder, PhD, director of research, Arthritis Research Institute of America, Clearwater, Fla.
Why Your Body Aches When It Rains
Maybe you’ve noticed that your bones ache in cold weather. Now you’re wondering: “Why do my bones hurt when it’s cold?” Well, it’s not uncommon for an old joint injury to ache on cold and rainy days. Many physicians have observed that more people feel joint pains on rainy days. So what exactly is responsible for this?
Why Does My Body Ache When It Rains?
Barometric (or atmospheric) pressure, temperature, humidity, and precipitation can influence joints. This makes it a bit difficult to know the exact factor that makes the weather affect joints when it’s rainy, humid or cold.
Why Does My Arthritis Hurt When It Rains?
The cause of pain isn’t well established. However, it’s obvious that your arthritis responds to changes in barometric pressure. When there’s a rainstorm, atmospheric pressure drops. As soon as your body detects this change, it makes your soft tissues swell up. As a result, fluid in the joints expands. Unfortunately, the expansion and contraction that takes place around the joints can irritate your nerves and cause pain.
Your pain may also occur because worn-out cartilage in the joints allows exposed nerves to respond to changes in pressure. Another reason for increased arthritic pain could be because the change in atmospheric pressure causes your tendons, muscles, and scar tissue to contract and expand. Consequently, this creates pain in joints with arthritis. Reduced temperatures may also cause the fluid in the joints to thicken and feel stiff.
You may also feel greater pain when the weather doesn’t allow you to move around the way you usually do. The truth is that you’ll spend more time indoors and restrict your movement when it’s rainy or cold outside. This can make your inactive joints become stiff and ache more.
How to Reduce Weather-Induced Joint Pain
It’s 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 you’re 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.
Do You Want to Know How to Permanently Prevent Joint Pains Due to Rain?
Call OrthoBethesda today to book an appointment with a physical therapist. We’ll help you overcome your joint pains and show you how you can continue to enjoy good muscle strength and effective joint mobility.
3 Ways to Relieve Achy Joints – Even in Winter
“Every mile is two in winter” said poet George Herbert. A big chunk of our Facebook fans couldn’t agree more, particularly the ones who have arthritis or joint pain. We polled them to find out what triggers their hip and knee pain, and 42 percent blamed cold weather — by far the leading cause. But can the elements really make your joints ache?
The scientific evidence is conflicting. Some studies find a strong relationship between short, cold, damp days and arthritis flare-ups. Research from Tufts University suggests changes in barometric pressure worsen knee pain in people with arthritis, while colder temps can cause painful changes in joint fluid thickness. Other studies have found little or no link between weather and joint pain.
Whether your aches are sparked by the weather or something else, these three steps can help you feel better.
Load up on foods rich in:
- Omega-3 fatty acids. Think salmon and nuts to curb inflammation.
- Vitamin K. Make meals that feature greens, such as spinach, kale, and cabbage, for their pain-soothing properties.
- Vitamin C. Add color to your diet with juicy oranges, sweet red peppers and tomatoes, and other C-rich foods to halt cartilage loss (and resulting pain) that comes with arthritis.
Avoid foods high in omega-6 fatty acids, such as corn oil, which may trigger painful inflammation. Also swap refined grains for whole grains. Early research suggests refined grains have an inflammatory effect, whereas high-fiber whole grains may help reduce inflammation.
Glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin may help by nourishing cartilage and increasing lubrication in your joints. A large-scale study funded by the National Institutes of Health found that a daily combo of glucosamine and chondroitin might help ease symptoms in people with moderate-to-severe joint pain.
Also make sure you’re getting plenty of vitamin D to help keep your bones strong and prevent joint pain. Look for a supplement with D3 (the kind your body manufactures from sunlight), but check with your doctor first because some supplements can interact with prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
One reason cold weather is linked to joint pain is people are less likely to work out when it’s chilly and damp. Being a couch potato is bad news for your joints because exercise helps lubricate them to prevent pain. Try these 6 safe, easy exercises for arthritic knees.
Too cold out? Bring your workout indoors — and don’t overdo it! Choose low-impact aerobic moves that are easy on joints, such as walking, and yoga or tai chi, which enhance your range of motion. Lifting weights can also help because it builds joint-supporting muscles.
Does Rain Cause Pain? And What to Do About It
The weather is changing, rainy days abound and winter is coming.
You have chronic back pain, arthritis, joint pain, gout, an old injury, etc. You also know that your pain is going to get worse for the next several months.
But you don’t know why, and more importantly, you don’t know what to do about it.
Why the pain gets worse:
Source: Image courtesy of Tiverlucky at FreeDigitalPhotos
When the pressure in the atmosphere is low, clouds and rain are much more likely, and the dampness increases pain and stiffness. One theory on how dampness increases your pain is that the reduction in pressure in the atmosphere allows bodily fluids to move from blood vessels to tissues, causing swelling and pressure on the nerves in those tissues, as well as an increase in fluid in the affected joints. The pressure on the nerves and in the joints would naturally cause increased pain, stiffness and reduced mobility.
Weather contributes to increased pain in a number of ways:
- Blood Flow: Cold temperatures cause blood to be diverted to the body core (chest and abdomen) and so there is reduced blood flow to muscles (stiffness).
- Activity: People are generally less active in cold weather, thus joints and muscles get less blood flow. Blood flow brings nutrients to tissues and clears away toxins.
- Hormones: In cold weather, the thyroid gland has to step up and do more work to keep the body temperature up. As we age, we have less reserve in the thyroid gland, and so we will run colder. This is why, in part, many elderly people keep the heat in their homes, turned up so high.
- Immune System: In cold weather, we are more likely to gain weight, because we eat more carbohydrates (comfort foods) and fats. Very often, because much of the immune system surrounds the GI tract, this poor diet causes a general state of inflammation in the body, activating certain chemicals in the body. Low levels of Vitamin D (very common) are associated with immune system dysfunction.
- Cloudy and short days: Some people develop what is commonly known as “Seasonal Depression”. Depression is very closely associated with chronic pain. Studies show that people with Rheumatoid arthritis are much more likely to have depression.
As a result of seeing these problems in patients (and myself) I looked for non-medicinal solutions and found a combination of herbs that helped me:
- The Boswellia, horsetail, and stinging nettle work in combination to balance the immune system. Together they reduce the release of molecules (cytokines, MMP’s), which cause pain, excessive inflammation, and tissue breakdown. They do this by stabilizing two key molecules, the Grand Central Stations of inflammation: TNF-Alpha and NF-Kappa B.
- Celery removes excess water from tissues
- Garlic prevents immune system suppression, allowing a normal immune response.
What to do about the weather’s negative affects on the body: Eat a healthy diet (no wheat, dairy, eggs, sugar or other foods you are allergic to) for one week. You can try the herbs listed above as well. Power Tip: Writing down what you eat and how you feel is 100 percent more powerful in following the guidelines than trying to track your food and mood in your mind.