Is there a connection between arthritis and temperature change? Most of us know someone or have heard of someone who supposedly can predict the weather based solely on how their joints feel or how their arthritis flares up. If you don’t have an arthritic condition, you probably take this with a grain of salt. If you do suffer from joint issues, you may know that arthritis and temperature change definitely can be connected.
This “weather predicting” phenomenon doesn’t mean that a person can tell everything about a coming weather episode. But medical science believes there’s definitely a correlation between certain weather activities and the physical effects they have on some people.
The arthritic condition
The term “arthritis” is used to describe many different joint conditions that involve swelling, pain and reduced range of motion. Many people with osteoarthritis, the most common arthritic condition, have periods of less pain and periods of greater pain, due to pressure or stiffness within their joints.
How weather can affect arthritic joints
No one knows the exact mechanism, but many medical professionals agree that certain weather changes can cause pain in joints already affected by a pain-causing condition. One example of how the pain of arthritis and temperature change go together is when a joint that is subject to swelling experiences a drop in barometric pressure. “Normal” pressure holds back swelling, but when there’s a drop, it’s like the clamps have been removed and swelling begins.
Barometric pressure affects everything, but most “healthy” individuals rarely notice any kind of symptoms when it changes.
Cold temperatures also can affect compromised joints. The general rule that “cold tightens and warmth relaxes” is true for all of us, but those with arthritis usually feel these changes more acutely. For some people, even a slight drop in temperature can affect joint tissue and bring on pain.
Heat and cold are tricky issues for arthritis patients: too much heat leads to swelling, and too much cold leads to constriction. The heat on hot days usually isn’t enough to trigger arthritic pain, but the heat produced by friction and injury within a joint can lead to swelling and much discomfort. On the other side, cold air very frequently exacerbates joint pain in patients with arthritis by making the joints “tighten up.”
Treating arthritis in all kinds of weather
The treatment of arthritis is a multi-faceted approach and takes into account not only weather changes but also a person’s physiology, activity level, rest habits, nutrition, overall health and more. Doctors who specialize in joint care believe there’s a connection between arthritis and temperature change, but they also know there are many other factors involved and strive to implement treatment protocols that address the whole person and all the things that can affect his or her comfort level.
If you have joint pain or have been diagnosed with arthritis, Aligned Medical Group can provide greater understanding and effective treatment methods that will be beneficial to you, no matter what the weather decides to do. You can reach us with questions or to arrange an appointment at (610) 644-3166.