Arthritis and Weather: Is There a Connection?

The Truth About Arthritis and Weather

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  • Arthritis Overview

    Arthritis Overview

    Arthritis is inflammation of the joints. Symptoms include stiffness and joint pain.

    There are many types of arthritis. The two most common types are osteoarthritis (OA), caused by repetitive movements; and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease. While there is no cure for arthritis, treatment can reduce inflammation and relieve pain and stiffness.

    Read on to explore the relationship between arthritis symptoms and weather.

  • The Arthritis/Weather Connection

    The Arthritis/Weather Connection

    You probably know someone who swears they can predict the weather by their arthritis pain. Or maybe you’re one of them. There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence about the relationship between arthritis symptoms and weather.

    Among people who say their arthritis pain is affected by weather, most say they feel more pain in cold, rainy weather than in warm, dry weather. There is some research to support the arthritis and weather connection, but some studies fail to provide conclusive evidence.

  • Barometric Pressure

    Barometric Pressure

    According to Arthritis Today, some studies show a relationship between barometric pressure and arthritis pain. A study involving cadavers revealed that barometric pressure affected pressure inside the joints.

    One experiment showed that the ball of the hip joint was moved a third of an inch off track when pressure was equated with atmospheric pressure.

    Another study showed that each 10-degree temperature drop was linked with an incremental increase in pain, and that rising barometric pressure also triggered pain in people with arthritis.

  • Blame It on the Rain

    Blame It on the Rain

    Many people with arthritis feel worsening symptoms before and during rainy days. Cold, rainy weather is often preceded by a drop in pressure, which may cause already inflamed tissue to expand, leading to increased pain.

    According to Cleveland Clinic rheumatologist Elaine Husni, weather doesn’t cause arthritis or make it worse, but it can cause it to hurt more temporarily.

  • Accepted Wisdom

    Accepted Wisdom

    Patients aren’t the only ones who link weather to increased arthritis pain. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, a change in the weather is one factor that may trigger, worsen, or improve symptoms of psoriatic arthritis.

    The Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons also links rainy weather and changes in weather to increased aches and pain of arthritis in the knees, hands, and shoulders.

  • Is It Worth Moving?

    Is It Worth Moving?

    Should you move to a warmer climate to escape arthritis pain? According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, there is no evidence to support that changing location will make a long-term difference in RA.

    Although drier, warmer weather may result in less pain, it doesn’t affect the course of the disease, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Arthritis patients who reside in warmer climates are not spared from arthritis pain.

    Many people move to a warmer, less harsh climate when they retire. This type of move, may provide some benefits, but curing arthritis isn’t one of them.

  • Who Gets Arthritis?

    Who Gets Arthritis?

    According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 50 million adults in the United States have some form of arthritis. About 294,000 children under age 18 have arthritis or some other form of rheumatic disease.

    Anyone can get arthritis, but risk increases with age. Arthritis also tends to run in families. People who have injured a joint or who are obese are at greater risk of developing OA. Women develop RA at a higher rate than men.

  • Treating Arthritis

    Treating Arthritis

    Treatment for arthritis depends, in large part, on the type of arthritis you have. A variety of medications are used to control inflammation and pain. Heating pads and cold packs can be applied directly to affected joints to ease pain.

    Arthritis can interfere with range of motion in joints, but regular stretching exercises can increase flexibility and strengthen supporting muscles. If movement is difficult, exercising in a pool can help.