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Can weather changes cause joint pain?

by Dominique Vanier, B.Sc.H., M.Env.Sc., on 20 September 2016, Muscle and joint
joint pain

Meteorologists and weathercasters may not be the only ones who can predict weather changes.

Individuals who suffer from joint pain, too, can often feel dramatic changes in barometric pressure in their joints and predict weather changes such as an approaching storm…

Weather changes

Although researchers remain stumped as to the exact mechanism behind short-term weather changes resulting in increased joint pain, research suggests that changes in barometric pressure and ambient temperature are independently associated with arthritis pain severity.

A 2007 study in the American Journal of Medicine found that every 10-degree (Fahrenheit) drop in temperature corresponded to an increase in knee pain in participants who have osteoarthritis of the knee. Similarly, increased barometric pressure also triggered joint pain.

Evidence suggests that a plausible relationship exists between cold temperatures and arthritic joint pain. Cold temperatures may have direct effects on joint compliance and the viscosity of fluid within the joint, as well as indirect effects on inflammatory mediators affecting joint inflammation.

The southern migration

Over half a million Canadians – including many seniors – migrate to the south each winter to avoid Canadian cold temperatures and to enjoy dry, warmer temperatures which may be better tolerated by arthritic joints. Those who have access to warm water may see added benefits as well. Swimming in warm temperatures stimulates blood flow in the body, helping loosen the joints and decrease pain.

Reducing joint pain is possible with lifestyle changes and other natural approaches.

Below are some of the best things you can do to reduce your pain:

  • When you’re suffering from joint pain, physical activity may be the last thing you want to do. However, exercise not only helps to strengthen the muscles that support the joint while restoring flexibility within the joint itself, it also improves pain thresholds.
  • Eat anti-inflammatory foods. Limit foods known to cause inflammation such as fried foods, and processed meats. Focus on eating anti-inflammatory foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like organic salmon, tuna, almonds, or walnuts, which help reduce inflammation and decrease joint pain. A study in the Journal of Nutrition found women who had the highest consumption of omega-3 fatty acids had significantly lower levels of inflammatory markers C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6.
  • Obtain a healthy BMI. One pound of excess weight adds about four pounds of extra pressure on the knees. If you are overweight, shedding a few pounds is one of the best ways to reduce pain by decreasing the load on your joints.
  • Obtain symptomatic relief. Try applying Absolüt Arnica Gel or take Joint Pain Relief to your joint and its surrounding muscles to sooth tissue inflammation and reduce pain.
  • Taking long, warm baths or showers in the morning can help ease stiffness in the joints. Applying cold compress or cold water to the affected joint can temporarily reduce pain.
  • Acupuncture is a promising modality that can help reduce joint pain. In people with arthritis, regular acupuncture over eight weeks may lead to some improvement in pain and physical function. Although most trials on acupuncture are poorly designed, it is worth a shot for even a modest decrease in joint pain.

References:
http://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(06)01026-6/fulltext
http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/pain-management/tips/weather-pain.php
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17466654
http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/pain-management/tips/warm-water-therapy.php
http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/features/exercise-relief
http://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/features/lose-weight
http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/comorbidities/obesity-arthritis/fat-and-arthritis.php
http://jn.nutrition.org/content/134/7/1806.full
http://www.cochrane.org/CD001977/MUSKEL_acupuncture-for-osteoarthritis
http://rheumatology.oxfordjournals.org/content/46/3/384.long

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