Scientists have done many studies on joint pain and weather over the years, but so far, none can say for sure what the connection is. Part of the problem is the studies themselves -- many have used surveys of just a few people, which isn’t a very reliable way to measure a link.
One is that people with joint pain, especially arthritis, may be sensitive to changes in barometric pressure. Another idea: Changes in barometric pressure may make your tendons, muscles, and any scar tissue expand and contract, and that can create pain in joints affected by arthritis.
Low temperatures can also make the fluid inside joints thicker, so they feel stiffer. People tend to stay indoors and lounge around more when it’s cold and rainy outside, and inactive joints can get stiff and painful.
Several studies have tried to pinpoint the kind of weather changes that affect joint pain, but the findings are all over the map. Continued In one survey of 200 people with osteoarthritis in their knee, researchers found that every 10-degree drop in temperature -- as well as low barometric pressure --corresponded to a rise in arthritis pain.
Another group of researchers took a look at medical records of more than 11 million Medicare visits and matched dates to local weather reports. But even though the science isn’t clear, flare-ups when the weather turns are very real for many people with joint pain.
Many people say they find relief in warmer climates, but again, there’s no scientific proof that it will ease your aches. Make sure you take care of your health in general, like with good nutrition and getting enough sleep.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Melinda Rating, DO, MS on November 16, 2021 Michelle Eisenberg, DO, Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital, Houston.
Depending on how severe joint or headache pain is, patients should see their doctors to create a changing- weather treatment plan, Dr. Gladstone said. As the seasons shift, weekend warriors who don't typically have joint pain should take extra precautions, as well, he added.
“Anything cold causes muscles, ligaments and tendons to sort of tighten up, and that makes them stiffer,” Dr. Gladstone said. For example, there’s the longstanding belief that weather affects arthritis pain.
Many of my patients notice a clear connection; some are so convinced of the link, they believe they can predict the weather better than the TV meteorologists. A recent study finds no connection between rainy weather and symptoms of back or joint pain.
For example, a 2014 study in Australia found no link between back pain and rain, temperature, humidity, or air pressure. But, found that among 200 patients followed for three months, knee pain increased modestly when temperature fell or barometric pressure rose.
And it’s something I’ve even heard in TV commercials about headache medicines: “I don’t care about the research. That rainy day when you felt no better or worse is unlikely to be so notable that you remember it.
If you rely solely on memory rather than on more rigorous, data-based evidence, it’s easy to conclude a link exists where, in fact, none does. Until I see evidence that’s even more compelling, I remain a skeptic about the weather /arthritis connection.
×This Dr. Axe content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure factually accurate information. ×This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by our trained editorial staff.
Over two thirds of people with joint disorders think their pain is caused by the weather. These limitations mean that the verdict on weather -induced joint pain isn’t yet clear.
Today, we’ll go over these theories and how you can get relief from joint pain, rain or shine. Theories suggest low barometric pressure can swell up joints.
High humidity/precipitation: Humidity and precipitation, especially rain, is commonly cited as well. Let’s take a look at how these four weather conditions may affect your joints on a medical level.
This means that when it changes, your tendons, muscles and tissues expand or contract, causing pain. Since low barometric pressure often occurs before a storm, many patients think that their joint pain predicts the weather.
In particular, sudden low temperatures may cause this feeling of sluggish joints. It’s difficult to separate conditions, as precipitation often involves low barometric pressure, too.
However, anecdotal evidence is strong regarding patients reporting pain when it’s rainy outside. This means that it makes it difficult for them to respond to changes quickly and effectively.
In other words, any changes in weather cause pain because of the delayed response from musculoskeletal exposure. Blood flow theory Some research also suggests that in colder weather, your body tries to conserve heat by supplying the most critical organs, such as the heart and lungs.
Their theory is that extreme weather, whether hot or cold, makes people stay indoors. Because this effect is real in arthritis patients, it’s important to talk about how you can relieve weather -induced joint pain and stay comfortable during these days.
You can promote blood flow by keeping your body warm and comfortable. You can also consider taking a warm bath using Epsom salts, or use a hot water bottle at night.
Even on rainy days, try to find a way to move your joints and keep them from becoming stiff or tense. Cut out processed foods and go for fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains and olive oil.
If your joints hurt as the weather changes, be sure to follow our tips for reducing pain so you can stay comfortable every day of the year. A chiropractor can give you pain-relieving adjustments, as well as a diet, exercise and supplementation program to prevent pain at home.
Dr. Brent Wells is a graduate of the University of Nevada where he earned his bachelor of science degree before moving on to complete his doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College. He founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Alaska in 1998.
He became passionate about being in the chiropractic field after his own experiences with hurried, unprofessional healthcare providers. The goal for Dr. Wells is to treat his patients with care and compassion while providing them with a better quality of life through his professional treatment.
So, although the anecdotal evidence is plentiful, are there actually scientific studies that can support the idea of an Arthritis Weather Index? Many arthritis sufferers firmly believe that their pain worsens prior to a change in the weather, which is an indication that it may be linked to barometric pressure.
One of the earliest official studies assessing the relationship between arthritis pain and weather conditions was performed in 1948, and although the results did show that patients in a climate chamber with a constant (warm) temperature and moderate humidity experienced less pain, the investigators didn’t actually control for changes in barometric pressure. Fast-forward to 1990, when one of the earliest attempts to study the link between barometric pressure and arthritis pain was performed.
Rather than cramming thousands of patients into a barometric chamber, sardine style, most studies performed in recent years have compared self-reported arthritic pain with the corresponding data recorded from weather stations. One such study, published in 2007, matched pain data from 200 arthritis sufferers with temperature, humidity and pressure data from their local weather stations, and found that joint pain often worsened before a change in barometric pressure occurred.
Several other studies have reported similar findings, suggesting that there could well be a link between barometric pressure changes and arthritis pain. Researchers found no correlation between increased joint pain and weather parameters (including barometric pressure, rainfall, wind speed, and humidity).
Although, scientifically, the jury is still out on the link between arthritis and weather, the notion seems too widespread to simply be a coincidence. Hopefully, further research can be performed to shed more light on the matter and improve arthritis sufferers’ ability to manage their pain.