Cold Weather and Joint Pain
There has long been a connection between the human body and the weather – if you have a family member who has claimed the weather effects the pain in an arthritic knee, you have a lot of company. In fact, many people claim that they can predict when it will rain based on when their joints start acting up – and although scientific explanations for this phenomenon are still sketchy, there is overwhelming anecdotal evidence that suggests a valid correlation. Cold and wet seasons are especially taxing for people with arthritic joint pain. It explains the cliché of retirees flocking to warm weather states, and the cliché of joint pain predicting the weather. So what’s the real connection? Scientific studies so far have been conflicted. Some studies have found strong correlations between cold or wet weather and joint pain. Some studies have found no connection whatsoever. Many recent studies, however, have suggested that the cold weather itself is not what causes joint pain, but the changes in the weather. Much in the same way that wood contracts and expands depending on the season, your body reacts similarly. When storm or cold weather systems approach, the barometric pressure (essentially the force of the atmosphere on its surroundings) drops. When that happens, matter that the barometric pressure has been constricting (in this case, the tissues in your body) can now expand. When the tissues expand, they put more pressure against your nerves, causing arthritis pain to feel more intense. So how do you manage your joint pain in cold and wet weather? One important thing, of course, is to dress warmly. Make sure your head hands, and feet are well insulated to keep heat from escaping your body. Another way is to stay active. Your initial reaction to cold and nasty weather is to stay inactive and indoors. However, inactivity will end up stiffening your joints and causing them to suffer once you do get moving. If you do plan on staying indoors, make sure you’re up and active – even household chores, taking the stairs at work, or playing with a pet can help your joints stay active and limber. Finally, eat healthy! Avoid rich and fried foods that lead to joint inflammation. Although the scientific confirmation is still pending, it's widely accepted in the arthritis community that nasty weather can be especially hard on your joint pain. Unless you’re planning on moving somewhere warm, you can use these tips to stay one step ahead of Winter.