Arthritis is inflammation of the joints. The symptoms of arthritis 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.
There is no cure for arthritis, but treatment can reduce inflammation and relieve pain and stiffness.
Arthritis and weather
You probably know someone who swears they can predict the weather by their arthritis pain. You may even be one of these people.
There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence about the relationship between arthritis symptoms and weather.
Most people who believe their arthritis pain is affected by weather say they feel more pain in cold, rainy weather than in warm, dry weather.
There is some research to support the arthritis-weather connection, but some studies fail to provide conclusive evidence.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, some studies show a relationship between barometric pressure and arthritis pain. A 2014 study of 222 patients with OA of the hip seemed to support that barometric pressure and relative humidity influence symptoms.
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.
Many people with arthritis feel worsening symptoms before and during rainy days. A drop in pressure often precedes cold, rainy weather. This drop in pressure may cause already inflamed tissue to expand, leading to increased pain.
Elaine Husni, a rheumatologist at the Cleveland Clinic, says weather doesn’t cause arthritis or make it worse. But it can temporarily cause it to hurt more.
People with OA or RA aren’t the only ones who link weather to increased arthritis pain. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, warm weather may improve symptoms for some people with psoriatic arthritis. However, there is no conclusive evidence proving this link. But summertime may prove to be an easier time of year to be active outdoors.
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. 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?
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 52.5 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.
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. Regular stretching exercises can increase flexibility and strengthen supporting muscles. Exercising in a swimming pool can be helpful if movement is difficult.