Knees Predicting Rain: The Arthritis Pain And Weather Connection

Sep 24, 2020

Many people have heard someone they know predict a future rain event based on the level of joint discomfort they experience. Dismissing this as nonsense is easy to do, but some studies indicate the weather can affect some arthritis sufferers. The research should encourage arthritis patients to preplan their pain management for rainy days.

Increase in Pain

Many studies relating to arthritis and the weather have taken place over the years. One example is the published results of a 2015 European study. The leaders of the study reviewed arthritis pain in older subjects, all with osteoarthritis. The participants tracked their pain levels in two-week calendars and included any precipitation and the temperatures for those days.

Researchers reviewed the results after six months and during follow-up interviews conducted 12-18 months later. The results revealed that pain levels rose significantly for the participants during humid weather lasting three days or more. Cold temperatures combined with a rise in humidity seemed even more troublesome.

The participants did not have the same increase in pain from day-to-day during sporadic rainy days as they did when the weather remained humid for longer cycles. The conclusion from the researchers was that weather can contribute to increased pain levels for arthritis patients. An awareness of the risk could help people plan for better pain management.

Cause of Discomfort

The cause of the increase in pain is not believed to be the rain itself, but a rise in barometric pressure. Changes in the barometric pressure could lead to inflammation, and it is why arthritis patients may notice the changes more than other people. Someone with joints that are already swollen and achy would be more sensitive to additional swelling.

Not all arthritis sufferers may feel more discomfort in their joints during damp weather. People often respond to weather conditions differently. Some people love hot weather and others find cool days more pleasurable. The same differences can apply to how arthritis patients experience cold and humid conditions.

A lack of movement on rainy days should also be a consideration for why joint pain intensifies. It is easy for people to believe the pain in their joints started when the rain began, but some may encourage the pain through their change in activity level. A rainy day is an excuse to avoid a daily walk and spend the day reading or watching TV. No activity could reduce circulation and cause the joints to stiffen.

A journal can help pinpoint the cause of pain. Listing weather conditions, daily activities, and the level of joint pain makes it easier to track the connection. The weather could be to blame if the pain increases before or during several days of humid weather despite remaining active. If the pain and stiffness start after a day or two of no activity, it may not be weather-related.

Relief from Symptoms

Arthritis patients that seem to have a sensitivity to humid weather conditions need to pay attention to weather reports. The Arthritis Foundation offers a free online weather and arthritis index to help people have some advanced warning. The warning enables people to make plans to counteract the negative affect.

Some possible solutions could include wearing compression stockings during periods of high humidity. People should plan to stay active but avoid overworking their joints on the days when they know they will be more sensitive. Ice or heat therapy at night could also help to keep the inflammation down.

Arthritis patients should stay proactive with their arthritis treatment to keep themselves more mobile and comfortable. At Sarasota Arthritis Center, we work with patients to develop effective treatment plans. If the weather seems to make pain management less effective, we can help. Contact our facility today to schedule a consultation.

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