Does the rain on the plain increase your pain?

Health & FitnessMedicine

  • Author David Creek
  • Published February 20, 2020
  • Word count 550

How Weather Affects Arthritis

A hard rain’s gonna fall

We’ve all heard people say they can tell when rain is coming by their achy joints. Especially now since we have entered the rainy season for Escondido and all of San Diego. Do you brush it off thinking it's all in their head? Can Grandpa’s pain really predict the weather, or is this just a myth?

Well, as silly as it sounds, there have been studies done on this very subject. With any controversial subject, not all scientists agree on exactly how, or even if, weather causes pain.

Perhaps the pain comes on due to higher humidity and falling barometric pressure. When the pressure decreases, which generally is a portend of bad weather, there is less air pressure on our bodies. Tissues can swell which could lead to joint pain.

Cold temperatures seem to make things worse. Muscles, joints and ligaments become stiff, thus more painful. Rises in humidity, when coupled with falling barometric pressure and temperature, also plays a role in patient discomfort.

Thinking of moving to a state with more moderate weather? Don’t start packing the R.V. just yet. Arthritis patients in warmer climates claim to experience the same effects as ones in the colder states.

Apparently, barometric pressure doesn’t care where you live.

Snake oil vs. hard science

Sorry, folks, but it's time to burst your bubble. A Harvard Medical School article stated:

"A recent study finds no connection between rainy weather and symptoms of back or joint pain. This conclusion was based on a staggering amount of data: more than 11 million medical visits occurring on more than two million rainy days and nine million dry days. Not only was there no clear pattern linking rainy days and more aches and pains, but there were slightly more visits on dry days."

Could all our weather predicting friends and relatives be off their rockers? Is increased joint pain during colder weather nothing but an old wives' tale?

Disproving someone’s personal experience is nearly impossible. We all have favorite products or home remedies we swear by that others consider snake oil. What works for one, doesn’t necessarily work for all.

To say that those who claim to experience more pain before or during a change in weather are simply feeling phantom pain would probably cut off your birthday MoneyGram from Gramps, just sayin'.

Whatever side you fall on, there are a few things you can do to improve the situation:

• Staying limber is numero uno. Stretching exercises and yoga are two excellent ways to maintain flexibility.

• Strengthen joints and loosen stiffness in the joints by exercising in a heated pool. Water provides enough resistance while keeping the weight off achy joints.

• Contrary to what you might think. strength training, i.e. working with weights, resistance bands or bodyweight exercises helps. As your muscles become stronger it relieves the pressure on the joints. Be careful not to overdo it. Heavier weights put too much stress on the joints and can exacerbate the problem.

• Anti-inflammatory drugs are always an option when pain is localized, but exercise is better in the long run.

So, is Grandpa a meteorological savant or just full of beans? We'll leave that for the two of you to figure out.

To learn more about what factors can affect your arthritis pain visit https://southlandarthritis.com

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