Sunday, March 3, 2024

Is Arthritis Affected By Humidity

What To Do When Rain Causes Pain

Humidity (weather) and changes in pressure increases pain and swelling

While you cant avoid changing weather, you can take steps to prevent, ease or relieve weather-related joint pain. Dr. Bolash recommends:

Stay limber Stretching regularly and doing yoga are great ways to increase flexibility and maintain joint health. Building muscle may also help. The more muscle you use during physical activity, the better able those muscles are to support your joints.

Do water exercises Working out in a warm pool is especially good for loosening stiff muscles, strengthening joints, building muscle strength and easing discomfort. Water provides resistance while lifting the weight from aching joints.

Consider anti-inflammatory medication or treatments For patients with pain in a single joint such as the site of a former knee injury for example we might pursue steroid injection or other treatment, says Dr. Bolash.

Overall, maintaining mobility is the best way to fend off widespread joint pain without visiting your physician and thats true in any kind of weather, Dr. Bolash says.

The Other Side Of The Coin

In an Australian study published in 2016, researchers assessed data from almost 350 individuals with knee osteoarthritis. Subjects were required to report their knee pain on a scale of 1-10 every 10 days over a three-month period, and this data was then compared with meteorological data for the same time period. Researchers found no correlation between increased joint pain and weather parameters . This backed up an earlier study performed by the same group that showed no link between changes in weather and lower back pain.

So, why doesnt all the research show the same results? One of the reasons for this may be due to the many different causes of arthritis. Its possible that one type of arthritis can be affected by the barometric pressure, whereas another type of arthritis is not.

When it comes to dissecting how barometric pressure could affect arthritic pain, scientists believe that pressure changes disrupt the workings of the fluids that lubricate our joints.

Ever noticed that your feet swell when youre a plane? Thats another example of pressure changes affecting fluids in our bodies, and its likely that our joints are similarly affected. As the fluids in our joints respond to changes in pressure, they may inflame and irritate the arthritic joints, worsening the effects of arthritis.

What Science Says About Humidity And Joint Pain

Believe it or not, those who claim the humidity affects their joints might be on to something. There have been studies on how weather can affect joint pain, and although there is no complete consensus that weather changes can affect joint pain, studies have shown the two might be related. However, the leading theory states that the changes in air pressure that accompany weather changes, rather than the weather itself, cause joint pain.

Although we cant see or feel it, the air surrounding us has weight and takes up space. This weight creates pressure that pushes against our bodies from the outside, preventing the tissues in our bodies from expanding. However, before it rains, the air pressure often drops. Because there is less air pressure pushing against our bodies, our tissues can expand. Its a microscopic change that is barely perceptible, but those who have arthritis may be more sensitized to the pressure due to inflammation and joint damage. This theory is plausible because changes in pressure do affect us physically. At high altitudes, there is lower air pressure this is why plane cabins are pressurized. Even with pressurized cabins, some people find that their feet swell during a flight.

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Does Heat And Humidity Make Joint Pain Worse

As we head into the Arizona monsoon season, you may be finding you have more trouble with joint pain.

Many people with arthritis find they have more stiffness and pain as the humidity rises and barometric pressure dropsas can happen before a monsoon storm. This may be because changes in temperature and humidity change the level of fluid in our joints.

In addition, the extreme Arizona heat alone can aggravate pain, simply by placing more stress on the body and making us more irritable and sensitive to discomfort.

Becoming dehydrated, which can happen quickly in the heat, can make things even worse because our joints need fluid to move smoothly.

What can you do to stay as comfortable as possible until things cool off? Try these tips.

If youre struggling with joint pain, the medical professionals at OrthoArizona can work with you to get back to enjoying the activities you love.

Pain Management: Tips For Dealing With The Heat

Does the Weather Really Affect Arthritis Pain?

Regardless of how chronic pain is related to hot weather or humidity, the condition can cause significant problems that need to be addressed. When it comes to pain management or pain treatment and hot weather, these simple strategies can keep you feeling your best:

Stay indoors. Perhaps the easiest way to avoid weather-related pain is to avoid being outdoors when the conditions are inhospitable, said Ioonna Felix, PT, DPT, a physical therapist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. Make sure you do not spend long periods of time outdoors, she added. If you do have to be outside, take frequent breaks to cool off indoors, and dont overexert yourself.

Adjust the air conditioning. Keep the air inside your home cool and keep the humidity low to treat pain. Invest in an air conditioner or fan, as well as a dehumidifier, Pappas said.

Eat and drink adequately. Stay hydrated with plenty of water , and eat a healthy diet to feel your best and keep chronic pain at bay.

Choose the right clothes. Dress for the weather. Wear white or light colors, especially natural fabrics like cotton or silk, that are loosely woven and loose-fitting, Dr. Lewis said.

Try cooling products. For a natural approach, remember that mint refreshes the skin and leaves a nice, cooling sensation, Lewis said. Try mint soap, lotion, or powder.

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How To Manage Arthritis Pain In Low Humidity Conditions

Since the festive season has already begun, you cant just let arthritis pain ruin everything you had been planning the past year. Although drinking medications could greatly relieve the pain, I recommend that you create a well-balanced program to support your body and overcome arthritis pain.

Dr. Ami Kothari, MD, a rheumatologist of the Illinois Bone & Joint Institute highly suggested a few activities that you could do to alleviate joint pain during the winter season.

  • Keep Warm, Dress in Layers
  • Rest Well, Get enough sleep
  • Be active, exercise, and loosen up
  • Maintain a healthy weight

He also noted that eating the right kinds of food is critical in managing arthritis pain. Just a friendly reminder this holiday, huge bites on super delicious food are exciting but keep a balanced amount to avoid suffering joint pains.

How To Minimize Your Joint Pain During Warm Weather

If you are experiencing joint pain, its important to visit your doctor. You can decrease your pain at home by using or combining any of these methods:

  • Staying cool. Remain inside when you can, especially on extremely hot days. Take breaks to stay cooler if you must venture outside, and make sure your air conditioner is turned up to a comfortable temperature.
  • Stay hydrated. Water is not only good for your health, but it helps to flush toxins out of the body which also helps to fight inflammation. It aides your joints by keeping them well lubricated.
  • Dont overexert yourself. Over-extension or utilization of your joints in warm weather will leave you feeling swollen later. Be mindful of how much your joints can handle.

At Orthopaedic Specialty Group, we offer a wide variety of treatments to help our patients deal with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, chronic pain, sports injuries, and more. Contact us today to schedule your appointment 337-2600!

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Is Cold Or Humidity Worse For Arthritis

Anecdotally, doctors who treat people with arthritis, as well as researchers who study factors that affect arthritis symptoms, hear over and over that certain kinds of weather namely, cold fronts, where theres a drop in barometric pressure and an increase in humidity makes peoples arthritis pain and swelling

Summer Humidity & Arthritis Pain

Harmful effects of humidity

Similarly, many arthritis sufferers report feeling more arthritis pain when the air is filled with humidity. This could be because the bodys tendons, ligaments, and muscles expand when humidity rises and barometric pressure drops.4

Some studies also show that high humidity levels can cause sweating and dehydration which can make the blood thicker, which increases blood pressure in the blood vessels and makes the body work more to pump blood through the body.5,6 Humid days can also cause the body to become dehydrated, which can decrease the concentration of fluid around the joints and create more joint pain.6

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The Effects Of Humidity And Barometric Pressure

One two-year study looked at the effect of the weather on 222 patients with hip osteoarthritis. Researchers found that higher humidity levels were associated with more pain and that higher barometric pressures were associated with worse function. The severity of the osteoarthritis, however, was not affected.1

Another study, this time on 810 patients with osteoarthritis of the hips and knees, also found that there was a significant association between daily average humidity and temperature and changes in joint pain. The effect of humidity was found to be more pronounced during periods of colder weather.2

In contrast, studies looking at osteoarthritis of the spine did not find such a link. For example, a large Australian study with 1,604 patients showed no effect of the weather on the severity of back pain experienced by these patients.3

How Can Weather Can Affect Arthritis

In 2019, the Cloudy with a Chance of Pain study, led by consultant rheumatologist Professor Will Dixon at the University of Manchester, assessed how weather affected more than 13,000 people in the UK with long-term health conditions, including arthritis and fibromyalgia.

Participants used a smartphone app to record their daily symptoms and thing that affected their pain levels (such as sleep patterns and daily exercise, while GPS on their phone provided accurate weather reporting.

The study, funded by Versus Arthritis, found that damp and windy days with low atmospheric pressure increased the chances of experiencing more pain than normal by around 20 per cent. Barometric pressure may affect your joints more than humidity, rainfall and temperature.

According to the Met Office, high pressure tends to cause fine, warm weather, while low pressure can lead to prolonged rainfall and flooding.

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What The Research On Arthritis Pain Shows

One study looked for a relationship between weather and arthritis pain in 151 people with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or fibromyalgia as well as 32 people without arthritis. All participants lived in Cordoba City, Argentina, which has a warm climate. Participants kept a journal for one year recording the presence and features of any pain, and these daily reports were matched with weather conditions such as temperature, barometric pressure, and relative humidity.

Patients in all three groups experienced more pain on days when the temperature was low, while people in the control group were unaffected by any of the weather conditions. In addition, patients with rheumatoid arthritis were affected by high humidity and high pressure osteoarthritis patients by high humidity and those with fibromyalgia by high pressure. However, the associations were not strong enough to allow pain to predict weather, or vice versa.

Another study looked at 154 people who lived in Florida and had osteoarthritis of the neck, hand, shoulder, knee, or foot. Participants reported their arthritis pain scores for up to two years, then researchers matched the scores with the daily temperature, barometric pressure, and precipitation status. No significant associations were found between any of the weather conditions and osteoarthritis pain at any site, except for a slight association between rising barometric pressure and hand pain in women.

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Cold Weather And Joint Pain

Does Humidity Affect Arthritis? It

In one study, which looked at 245 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, it was found that older patients were more likely to report flare-ups during the colder weather.4

However, a more extensive analysis of nine studies in patients with rheumatoid arthritis failed to identify a link between the weather and pain.5

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Does That Mean You Should Move

If a rainy, humid climate can actually make arthritis pain worse, will moving to an area with a drier climate make it better? Dont pack up and move just yet! In the long run, it wont make a difference. Sometimes, when people vacation in areas with drier climates, they do report less pain. However, people dont normally do their everyday activities while on vacation. Those who move to a drier climate will often find that their pain returns once they resume normal activities. The problem is that even if you eliminate the factors that make your pain worse, you cannot reverse the damage done by arthritis. There is treatment that can slow the progression of arthritis, but there is no cure. Those with very painful, advanced arthritis often need joint replacement surgery to improve their pain.

Also, keep in mind that no environment is arthritis-proof. People who live in drier areas like Arizona experience arthritis pain too. Often, our bodies can adjust to the new climate and detect changes in the air pressure. While moving may help you feel better temporarily, your pain will more than likely return.

If arthritis pain is affecting your everyday life, see a specialist who can help you manage your symptoms. The right treatment can help to minimize your pain and slow the progression of arthritis. In the long run, that will help you much more than moving to a drier climate.

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Humid Conditions Cause Our Tendons Ligaments And Muscles To Expand

These baroreceptors in our body respond, helping the central nervous system to regulate the resistance of blood vessels and the hearts contractions. The problem for those who already have muscle or joint pain, expansion in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments can irritate the already-sensitive areas.

For example, arthritic joints have less cushioning making them more sensitive to these pressure changes. If youre feeling a little achy in humid weather, take it easy and dont push yourself!

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Linking Barometric Pressure And Arthritis: The Beginning

Although there is also evidence to suggest that temperature affects joint pain, most of the research has focused on the effects that barometric pressure may have on arthritis pain. Barometric pressure, also known as atmospheric pressure, changes with different weather systems. Youve probably heard your local TV weather presenter talk about high-pressure systems and low-pressure systems the pressure they are referring to here is barometric pressure.

Many arthritis sufferers firmly believe that their pain worsens prior to a change in the weather, which is an indication that it may be linked to barometric pressure. One of the earliest official studies assessing the relationship between arthritis pain and weather conditions was performed in 1948, and although the results did show that patients in a climate chamber with a constant temperature and moderate humidity experienced less pain, the investigators didnt actually control for changes in barometric pressure. Plus, it was 1948.

Does Research Matter When You Have Personal Experience

Does Weather Affect Arthritis?

Thats a fair question. And its something Ive even heard in TV commercials about headache medicines: I dont care about the research. I just know what works for me. But its worth remembering that humans have a remarkable tendency to remember when two things occur or change together , but remember less when things do not occur together. That rainy day when you felt no better or worse is unlikely to be so notable that you remember it. If you rely solely on memory rather than on more rigorous, data-based evidence, its easy to conclude a link exists where, in fact, none does.

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Further Studies Of Arthritis And Weather

Further support for an effect on the atmospheric pressure in arthritis was published in the Proceedings of the Western Pharmacology Society in 2004. In this prospective, double-blind study, 92 patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis were compared to a control group of 42 subjects. The authors concluded that the osteoarthritis patients experienced increased joint pain with a low atmospheric pressure while low temperature increased the risk of joint pain in the rheumatoid arthritis group.

Another study published in the Journal of Rheumatology in 2004 demonstrated that high humidity was unfavorable for arthritis patients. Based on these two studies alone, it would seem that a location that tends to have higher barometric pressure and lower humidity would represent a favorable environment for people with arthritis.

Another study published in the Journal of Rheumatology in 2015 examined whether daily weather conditions, 3-day average weather conditions, and changes in weather conditions influence joint pain in older people with osteoarthritis in six European countries. Study results revealed that associations between pain and daily average weather conditions suggested a causal relationship between joint pain and weather variables, however, the associations between day-to-day weather changes and pain did not confirm causation.

Why Weather Affects Joints

Temperature changes affect how your joints feel and work. In the summer, humidity can be a factor for a few reasons:

  • Tendons, ligaments and muscles expand in humid weather.
  • Hot weather can keep you from moving around. This non-use stiffens your joints.
  • Joints with worn cartilage may have exposed nerves that react to changes in the air pressure around you.
  • Humidity causes your body to lose water through sweat. This may reduce the fluid around your joints and cause pain.

Not every person has joint challenges in the hot weather. Many people have joint issues when temperatures drop or its damp and rainy. Other people feel at their best in cool, dry weather. It all depends on your own body and how your joints react to temperature changes.

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