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Weather and Arthritis

old couple sitting on park benchHave you ever felt like the of the seasons affects how your body feels? If you do, you aren’t alone. Supposedly over two-thirds of people with joint disorders believe that their pain is caused by the weather, and they might be onto something.

It’s hard to study things like weather related joint pain in a scientific study. It’s impossible to control and repeat weather conditions on demand, and you can’t exactly separate different weather types either. This means that a solid verdict on whether or not the weather has a solid effect on joints is unclear, but we do have plenty of medical theories and anecdotal evidence about why it appears that the weather impacts our joints.

Joint pain may appear to flare up when it’s cold, rainy or humid, and these weather conditions have led to different theories about why we feel so much sore or stiffer with these changes.

1. Barometric Pressure Theory

Scientists believe that the fluid contained in our joints is sensitive to changes in barometric pressure. With these changes in pressure, our tendons, muscles and tissues expand or contract accordingly which may cause pain. In weather conditions with low barometric pressure the fluid in our joints may have less pressure placed on them causing them to swell and become inflamed. Because low barometric pressure often occurs just before a storm starts, many people believe their joint pain can predict the weather!

2. Temperature Theory

When cold weather strikes many people will report increased joint pain. Again, it is believed that our joint fluid is a key reason. When we are out in lower temperatures it is thought that our fluids become “thicker” and less dynamic and moveable. This may contribute to feeling stiff and having more sluggish movements.

3. Humidity/Precipitation Theory

This theory is very similar to the Barometric Pressure Theory. When we have rainy or humid weather it is often accompanied by low barometric pressure which releases that pressure on our joints and allows them to swell.

4. Exposure To Change Theory

This fairly simple theory states that our joints may hurt during weather changes simply because they are exposed to those elements! With joint wear and tear our fluids and nerves are run down and more exposed than usual which means it can make it difficult for them to respond to changes quickly and effectively. The pain from our joints could just be caused by the delayed response from our musculoskeletal systems because of the exposure to the outdoors.

5. Blood Flow Theory

Research suggests that in colder weather our bodies try to conserve heat by sending our blood to the most critical organs in our body (like the heart and lungs). This could mean that other areas of our bodies (like our hands, feet, fingers and toes) get less blood flow. This could potentially cause stiffness and pain.

6. Mood Theory

There are more and more studies showing that the way we psychologically react to things impacts our bodies physically. If rainy or snowy days tend to put you in a bad mood that alone could be enough to affect the pain response in your body!

7. Inactivity Theory

It’s no secret that in super cold and rainy weather we aren’t nearly as active as when it’s sunny and warm. Because we are not moving as often as usual this could cause joints to become stiff and painful from lack of use.

While there is still more research to be done on all of these theories, it doesn’t help us with the problem of joint pain itself. It’s important to find ways to relieve weather related joint pain, and here are just a few preventative approaches you can take:

1. Stay Warm

Bundling up ensures that you can promote blood flow to all parts of your body, not just those vital internal organs. Be sure to wear warm mittens, socks and lined jackets when you’re going outside. After being outside taking a warm bath with epsom salts or using a hot water bottle at night can ensure you get those joints the warmth they need.

2. Stay Active

Keep your body moving as best as you can! You don’t have to go outside if the weather is really bad, but finding a way to move to keep your joints from getting stiff and sore is imperative. Try keeping some weights indoors to exercise with, or stretching and yoga. Another great alternative is swimming at an indoor pool. Not only will it keep you moving away from the weather, it is also low impact and easier on the joints.

3. Follow an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Your diet can have a direct impact on your joints. To avoid weather related joint pain it’s important to make sure you’re not already causing discomfort by eating foods that are inflaming them. Cutting out processed foods and focusing on fresh fruits, veggies, fish and healthy oils will all help to maintain a healthy place for your joints.

If you are continuing to experience joint pain you should also consider seeing a chiropractor. Dr. Riley Klassen has been helping people with joint pain in the St. James and Westwood area for just over 5 years. He can help relieve your pain through spinal adjustments as well as offering advice about diet, exercise, and supplements so that you can continue to prevent pain at home.

If you’re experiencing joint pain don’t hesitate to contact us and book your initial appointment today!

Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only, it is not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent any illness or disease. Please consult a professional for your healthcare needs.

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