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Winter is Coming... Could This Mean More Painful Joints?

August 31, 2016 in Joint Pain

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Many people who suffer from arthritis pain claim that the weather can have an impact on their symptoms. There have been heavy debates among researchers and scientists about if there really is a correlation between the weather conditions and arthritis flare-ups. Some researchers attribute these symptoms simply to feeling down in the dreary seasons and consequently, being more susceptible to respond to pain. There may be more to it than just feeling down, and those individuals who live daily with arthritis know that symptoms can change as quickly as the weather itself.

What Doctors are Saying

Dr. James Fant, an associate professor of medicine and director of rheumatology at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, is more confident than most when it comes to seeing the connection between arthritis pain and the weather. This is because he works with patients almost every day who share their experiences with arthritis symptoms.

“At first I doubted because there was not a lot of scientific evidence to support the correlation between arthritic symptoms and the weather. But I've been practicing for nearly 20 years and I've heard it so often from so many patients that I know there's something to it. I may not be able to explain the exact mechanism — whether they're humidity or differences in the barometric pressure and how they translate into causing symptoms, but I believe there is a connection simply because I've heard too many patients tell me that they are absolutely sure when it's going to rain because their knees will hurt more.” -Dr. James Fant

Air Pressure

Cooler weather and variations in pressure may have an impact on rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms. Robert Jamison, Professor at Harvard Medical School and chief psychologist at the Pain Management Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital, conducted a study and found that 67.9% of the people surveyed were sure that the weather had an effect on their joint pain and that they could feel a change in pain before rain or cold weather. Jamison attributes this change in pain to a change in barometric pressure. Tissues in the body may actually expand as the barometric pressure drops. This means more pressure on the nerves that control pain signals to the brain.

Lack of Physical Activity

Another possible solution to the mysterious origins of RA flare-ups is the tendency to become more tense, stiff, and less active in the winter season. Physical activity can actually ease arthritis symptoms and people tend to exercise less once the summer months have passed. It is easier to go for a walk, leisurely jog, or make an effort to play an outdoor sport, when the sun is shining and we aren't tempted to avoid the frosty outdoors at all costs. If you are an individual with RA, make an extra effort to stay active all throughout the year.

Relieve Flare-ups

In summary there is no solid scientific evidence that traces arthritis flare-ups directly to wet or cold weather. However, it is clear that many speculations have been made due to the high quantity of RA sufferers that are sure this correlation exists. Some researchers have chalked it up to a greater level of depression in the gloomier seasons, and the heightening of the pain response during these bouts of depression. Dropping pressure, amplified pain signals, and lack of exercise could all be valid explanations for the sudden spike in painful symptoms. If your arthritis is acting up try stretching lightly, going to the gym, taking a hot shower, or using DR-HO'S Pain Therapy System Pro for instant temporary relief.

 

Visit the following link to learn more about joint pain.

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Sources:

  1. 2016. Arthritis & Osteoporosis. "Aches and Pains during Cold and Wet Weather."
  2. 2015 Boynes-Shuck, Ashley. Healthline. "How Does Cold Weather Affect RA?"
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