If you think it’s an old wives’ tale that people with arthritis can predict the weather by the pain in their joints, think again.
Scientists have found overwhelming evidence that there is in fact a strong link between certain weather conditions and the level of pain arthritis sufferers experience.
Here are some of the more notable findings of multiple studies on the topic:
- While humidity has long been thought a culprit for increased joint pain, studies have found that the effect is intensified when moisture is combined with cold temperatures. While the direct connection has not yet been fully determined, some researchers theorize that colder weather may make joints stiffer and more sensitive to movement, causing pain in areas affected by arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
- Other scientists believe that the increase in pain during inclement weather may be in part attributed to the fact that people tend to stay inside and ‘hunker down’ when the weather is cold and rainy; this typically leads to less physical activity, which can also affect arthritis pain.
- Though it is not entirely clear exactly how moisture and cold affect joint pain, studies have found a definite correlation between them. But even more evidence has pointed to barometric pressure (atmospheric pressure) as being a common culprit for this type of pain.
When barometric pressure changes, either increasing or decreasing, the change in the weight of the surrounding air can cause the body’s tissues to expand and contract. This pressure fluctuation may be responsible for increased pain in the joints.
If you suffer from arthritis and suffer increased pain symptoms during cold, rainy or changing weather conditions, talk with your pain physician to learn ways to cope with your discomfort while at home. Your doctor may recommend alternative remedies you can implement as needed, depending upon your individual situation and the nature of your condition.
For example, your doctor may recommend one of the following methods:
- Increasing your activity level
- Hot and cold therapy
- Stress relief techniques
- Topical ointments
- Eliminating sugar
- Pain medication
(Please note that you should never attempt an arthritis remedy without first consulting with your pain doctor. What serves to relieve pain for one person may have adverse effects on another, according to what type condition you have and the intensity of your arthritis pain.)
So, the next time someone you know with arthritis appears a little more ‘creaky’ and achy than usual, consider having your winter coat on hand… there may be a cold front coming!
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