Is there really a connection between weather and joint pain?
Short answer: Yes… especially among those with chronic pain conditions. In fact, studies1 have shown a significant correlation between cold, wet climates and arthritis pain.
Why? That’s a bit more complicated. Since there are multiple factors involved, researchers have not yet been able to pinpoint the exact connection between weather and joint pain.
Possible causes include:
- When the temperature drops, the body conserves heat by sending more blood to the heart and lungs. Reduced blood flow to the extremities then leads to pain and stiffness in the joints.
- Changes in barometric pressure cause tendons, muscles, and tissue to expand or contract putting pressure on nerves and triggering joint pain.
- Damaged cartilage exposes nerves within the joint which may make them more sensitive to changes in pressure.
- Joints stiffen and become painful due to inactivity on cold, rainy, or humid days.
How to Ease Joint Pain
No matter the reason, there’s no question that aches and pains are a common complaint during the cold, rainy months. Fortunately, whether your joint pain is caused by an underlying condition—such as arthritis or Raynaud’s disease—or due to “cold-weather couch-potato” syndrome, there are ways to keep it under control.
Stay active. Improve your range of motion with low-impact activities such as walking, swimming, aerobics, or yoga. Depending on your condition, there may be activities you should avoid; be sure to talk to your doctor to determine an exercise routine that’s right for your body.
Maintain a healthy weight. Maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise to avoid excess stress on your joints.
Eat a healthy diet: Not only is a healthy diet crucial in maintaining a healthy weight, certain foods can also help decrease pain and inflammation.
- Omega-3 fatty acids – Not all fats are bad for you. In fact, omeg-3 fatty acids are an essential part of a healthy diet. Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna provide both omega-3s and vitamin D which may help reduce inflammation and the severity of arthritis symptoms.2 The American Heart Association recommends including at least two servings of fatty fish in your diet each week for anti-inflammatory benefits.
Not a fan of fish? Other great sources of omega-3s include walnuts, chia seeds, soybeans, and flaxseed.
- Leafy Green Vegetables –Dark green vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, and kale are rich in antioxidants and calcium which can help reduce inflammation and may prevent the progression of osteoarthritis.3
- Vitamin C – Citrus fruits—such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes—are rich in vitamin C which can help prevent inflammation and maintain healthy joints.4
- Extra-virgin Olive Oil – Extra-virgin olive oil contains oleocanthal, a natural anti-inflammatory agent which has properties similar to those found in ibuprofen.3
Improve your mood. Stress and anxiety can wreak havoc on your body. By focusing on your mental well-being, you can greatly improve your physical well-being. Once you find a stress-relief technique that works for you, make it a priority in your daily routine.
While joint stiffness is common, consistent pain or stiffness can be a sign of a more serious problem that could lead to irreparable joint damage. If pain persists or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as swelling or redness, it’s important to talk to your doctor to determine the cause. Call 410-337-7900 to schedule an appointment or visit our locations page to find an office near you.
1 Weather & Arthritis Index
2 The Arthritis Foundation: Weather and Arthritis Pain
3 The Arthritis Foundation: Best Fish for Arthritis
4 The Arthritis Foundation: Best Vegetables for Arthritis
4 The Arthritis Foundation: 12 Best Foods for Arthritis