The Weather and Your Joints: Is There Really a Link?

Posted by Smarter Nutrition on

Can you tell when a storm is coming just by the way your joints feel? Why do so many people migrate to warmer weathered places for retirement? It’s got to be more than just the golf, right?

While many believe it to be an old wives’ tale, there may actually be some science to back up the weather and joint pain link. Much of it has to do with the barometric pressure. Let’s take a closer look at how the weather affects your joints. And for those who don’t don’t want to move to Arizona, we’ll look at some natural daily practices you can implement if your joints are more achy or sore on cold and rainy days.

Why Your Joints Respond to the Weather

While the theory of achy joints on cold, rainy, or even humid days has become more accepted among doctors, the exact link between certain types of weather and aching joints aching is not very clear. However, recent research has helped to better demonstrate that there is a real connection.

Barometric Pressure

Barometric pressure, also known as “atmospheric pressure,” is the force or pressure of the atmosphere. This is why it’s sometimes called “the weight of the air”. This pressure can greatly impact those who suffer from arthritis. Why? It has to do with the fact that those with arthritis lack the cushion in the joint that can protect it from things like changes in pressure. The nerves in the bone may react to the barometric pressure change which can lead to joint pain.

Another theory when it comes to barometric pressure and joint pain has to do with the fact that changes in air pressure may cause your tendons and muscles to contract. As you can imagine, this can lead to more painful joints in someone who suffers from arthritis or or anyone who is prone to any type of regular joint pain.

What Kind of Weather Impacts Your Joints the Most?

So what type of weather causes the most joint pain? Unfortunately, there is no one clear answer here, as it may differ for each person. However, those who commonly experience joint pain to tend to experience flare-ups on colder, rainy days. Many of these same people report joint-pain relief when the weather is warmer. However, keep in mind that there have been countless studies looking at this, and each study is a little different.

For example, a recent Dutch study looked at 222 participants who suffered from osteoarthritis and found that most participants experienced more pain with an increase in barometric pressure as well as more humid weather. Other studies have found that a temperature drop caused an increase in joint pain.

No matter what the weather is doing, one thing is clear: those who have arthritis or other conditions related to joint pain do in fact experience something with changes in the weather and barometric pressure.   

How to Get Relief

So, how do you get relief from the joint pain associated with weather changes? The first thing to do is to look for a trend. Try to determine when your pain flares up most frequently. Is it when a rainstorm is coming in, or does your pain tends to get worse in the winter on freezing cold days? If you are able to pinpoint what exactly makes it worse, it will be easier to prepare and get relief before the pain gets out of hand.

In addition to pinpointing trends, let’s take a look at some other ways you can get relief for weather and barometric pressure-related joint pain.

  • Stay Warm: If cold weather makes your joint pain worse, be sure to stay as warm as possible to protect yourself from a flare-up. Keep your heat up high, dress in layers, and wear warm socks during the colder months. You can also use things like hand and foot warmers when you have to go out on the cold days.

  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Excess weight can lead to additional joint pain, so maintaining a healthy weight is only going to help prevent or  reduce some of that discomfort. To help with this, get your body moving at least 4-5 times per week, and eat a healthy diet full of whole, nutrient-dense food options. Also eliminate processed and artificial foods.
  • Be Gentle on Your Joints: While staying active and body movement is a key part of supporting overall health, don’t do anything that is too taxing on your joints. You may want to stay away from running or lifting anything too heavy. Instead, choose lower impact forms of exercise like cycling, yoga, tai chi, and walking that won’t put as much strain on your joints and won’t make your pain worse. You will also want to make sure you warm your body up well before you start exercising, to prepare your joints and muscles a chance for movement before jumping right in. Try jogging in place and doing some stretching to get the body warm.
  • Use Heating Pads: If your joints are super achy despite all your efforts to keep your body warm on the cold and rainy days, try heating pads, or hot water bottles. These can serve as a great way to reduce some of that aching feeling while also promoting warmth.

The Bottom Line

Joint pain is not fun, and there are definitely some things that can make it worse. If you are experiencing an increase in joint pain with changes in the weather, you are definitely not alone. In addition to speaking with your doctor about steps you can take to help reduce the pain, try to incorporate some of the tips covered in this article. Keep your body warm, get active, maintain a healthy weight, and be proactive by pinpointing a pattern for when the pain tends to increase. The more prepared you are, the better you may be able to manage your pain on the next cold and rainy day.

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1 comment

  • Ditto for fibromyalgia.

    Margaret Levesque on

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