Feeling the Weather in Your Bones


“Grandma says it’s going to rain?”


Have you heard that before?  Have you told your grandchildren that before?


Do changes in the weather really affect physical pain?


The National Health Interview Survey indicates that some 50 million adults in the United States have been diagnosed with arthritis and 21 million have limited activity because of that.


It’s been a long accepted thought by some that people can tell the weather is going to change by how their body feels.  Rain is coming and the knees or other joints begin to ache.  A storm is coming and that shoulder just isn’t moving very well.  But the medical community doesn’t always agree and research doesn’t seem to provide a lot of data to support the claim.


While scientists do disagree on the affect weather has on pain, one theory is that the change in the barometric pressure alters the pressure inside the joints of the body.  Tendons and ligaments that hold the bones together are surrounded by sacs of fluid as well as trapped gasses.  It’s almost like a balloon that has as much pressure on the outside as the inside.


Often, just the thought of dropping temperatures can cause some discomfort.  And sometimes managing pain is as much perception as reality.


How do you deal with changes in the weather?  Here are some things to lessen the impact.

– Pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medicine can help if there’s cold in the forecast.
– Bundle up.  Mother and Grandmother were right.  Wear a coat.  Wear gloves.  Wear a hat.
– Seal doors and windows to keep out drafts.
– Use a heating pad or an analgesic cream to provide relief.
– Use a dehumidifier in your house to reduce dampness.
– It’s not always possible, but you could consider visiting a warm, dry climate.
– Keep a watch on your weight.  While medicine may disagree over the affects of the weather, they’re in complete agreement that extra pounds cause stress and pain on the joints.
– Keep moving.  Don’t stop moving when it hurts.  Gentle movement is one of the best ways to reduce the affects of arthritis and other joint pain.


Medical science disagree, but you can find an index on both the Weather Channel and AccuWeatherwebsites that estimate the possibility of joint aches and pains across the U.S.


There’s a lot of thought given to moving to a warmer climate.  While that may make you feel better, at least mentally, there’s no conclusive evidence that you can move to the desert and live pain free.  In reality, after your there for a while, your body will simply adjust to the new climate and the aches and pains, or maybe different ones, will still be there.


Science doesn’t agree on whether weather changes affect arthritis and joint pain.  But knowing that doesn’t affect the fact that behavior and lifestyle can help you deal with that pain.  Get healthy, stay active and treat your body gently.  While arthritis and joint pain may be unavoidable, the practical measures listed above can benefit you as you learn to manage the pain and discomfort.  Those suggestions work regardless of the weather.


Additional resources for arthritis and joint pain.


Arthritis Foundation

The Arthritis Foundation hopes to raise awareness about arthritis and seeks to reduce the number of people suffering from arthritis related activity by 20 percent by the year 2030.


Medicine News Today: What is arthritis? What causes arthritis?


The Mayo Clinic: Arthritis


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