Do you feel like you can predict changes in the weather based on how your joints feel? Millions of Americans suffer from joint pain due to arthritis and other joint-related issues, and many of them are able to recognize a coming change in weather based on an increase in pain. While it might sound crazy, there may actually be science to explain the correlation between joint pain and weather changes.
The exact relationship between your joint pain and changes in the weather has not been scientifically proven; however, there are scientific theories that may explain the phenomenon. The most common theory is related to changes in barometric pressure.
Joint pain is often caused by inflammation and swelling. When the barometric pressure is high, it creates an outside force on the body, which essentially compresses the body tissues and limits inflammation. But when the barometric pressure drops—as it would before a storm—outside pressure on the body relaxes, allowing the joint to expand with inflammation, resulting in an increase in pain.
Some people believe moving to a warmer climate might help reduce pain associated with arthritis and other joint problems, but this has not been proven. People in warm climates still experience joint pain.
Rather than planning to relocate to eliminate your pain, try these tips to help reduce joint pain during weather changes:
- Stay warm. Heat can be soothing to painful joints, so dress in layers and keep your house warm in winter months. Sleeping with an electric blanket at night might also help.
- Prevent fluid buildup. Arthritis can cause a buildup of fluid in the joints, which is very painful. Prevent fluid from building up in your joints by wearing Spandex gloves on your hands or compression hose on your legs.
- Move. In bad or cold weather, we tend to stay indoors and be more sedentary than we might be on days when the sun is shining and the weather is nice. If you have arthritis, it’s important to get some exercise in every day, regardless of the weather. Exercise helps painful, stiff joints loosen up.
- Lighten the mood. Chronic pain is often associated with anxiety and depression. If you feel the pain coming on, do something to improve your mood. Call a friend for a lunch date, or take the family to do a fun activity. Improving your mood can help override your pain.
If your joints ache when the weather changes, it may not be all in your head. But by taking the steps above, you can help combat weather-related joint pain.