Many people who suffer from joint pain claim they can predict changes in the weather, and they may be right. It may sound like little more than an old wives tale, medical professionals have long argued that joints weakened by old age, disease, or injury may indeed be susceptible to changes in the weather. The connection between joint pain and weather has been studied for years, but most of the evidence up to now has been inconclusive.
Last year, a Dutch study conducted by orthopedic specialists from the Erasmus MC University Medical Center Rotterdam found a fairly clear correlation between the joint pain and cold weather. Comparing patient pain reports to the weather conditions on the days their pain occurred, researchers found that whenever barometric pressure and humidity increased, joint pain and stiffness grew slightly worse. The study found that more than half of patients reported the weather having an impact on their condition. For some patients, pain was worse on days that were particularly cold and damp.
It’s worth pointing out that this study is still a long way from proving the connection between arthritis and the weather. It only evaluated one type of joint, it took place over the relatively short time-span of two years, and it only studied around 200 patients — which is a relatively small sample size in the grand scheme of arthritis research. And while it didn’t conclusively prove the connection, it does seem suggest the two may be connected, which will likely encourage more research.
Doctors are clear about at least one thing though – the weather doesn’t cause arthritis, and it doesn’t make your condition worse. There’s no need to pick up and move to an area with lower barometric pressure – it’s just that some patients may feel mildly increased symptoms on a stormy day.
Migraines and the Weather
If the connection between arthritis and the weather is ultimately proven, it wouldn’t be an entirely new precedent in medicine. Many people report migraines coming on as a result of dry air, high or low temperatures, bright sunlight, or changes in barometric pressure. Exactly how this works isn’t clear yet, but it’s widely accepted that overcast and rainy days means migraine headaches are abound.
Tips for Arthritis Sufferers
Around 27 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis. It’s one of the most common medical ailments, with more than 3 million new cases in the United States alone every year. With risk factors that are as wide ranging as age, obesity, genetic predisposition, and prior joint injuries, nearly everyone will be at risk during their lifetime.
For those who experience increased pain and stiffness on a stormy day, there may not be a cure, but you can still beat the weather. For many people, the solution may be as simple as putting on a sweater, or adding an extra layer of clothing when triggering weather is forecast. Keeping a pair of gloves around may help protect you from cold and moisture, and many people find that stretching, jogging in place, or using heating pads can help loosen up stiff joints on a rainy day.