Its no myth – people with arthritis may be able to tell changes in the weather up to 3 days in advance.
Evidence is a bit sketchy on this topic as it has been very hard to prove but there is a body of evidence that does seem to suggest that some people are more susceptible to weather and pressure changes than others.
A study from Tuffs University in 2007 found that every 10-degree drop in temperature corresponded with an incremental increase in arthritis pain.
Enter the villain in the story... Barometric Pressure!
Barometric pressure (AKA atmospheric pressure) is the force exerted by the atmosphere at the given point. It is known as the ‘’weight of the air”. A drop in barometric pressure often precedes cooler temperatures, rain or storm.
What happens to my joints?
The theory is that the decrease in the air pressure can cause the tissue around the joint to swell increasing synovial fluid in the joint. This then creates an inflammatory effect and an increase in pressure inside the bone resulting in pain. This pressure effects everyone but the decrease in cartilage related to arthritis or injury is what makes joint pain sufferers more susceptible to these changes in the weather.
Another theory is that when it gets colder we have a tendency to move less resulting in us not accessing the most powerful of medicines; the positive effects of exercise. Think of exercise as your own personally produced panadol; by exercising we release endorphins and other chemicals that are known to be powerful anti-inflammatory and painkillers.
How to manage the pain
Warm up – Keep your body, house and car warm to reduce cold weather related joint pain. Be prepared and find what works best for you.
Don’t wait for the body to get cold. Options such as using the heater, heat parks, electric blankets or extra clothing can be very beneficial for managing symptoms.
Stop the swelling – wear compression garments to prevent the swelling occurring.
Physical activity – low impact activities such as walking help to move the synovial fluid though the joints reducing stiffness and pain.
Physiotherapy – Gentle soft tissue massage and joint mobilisation may also help to move synovial fluid in the joints decreasing pain and limiting stiffness and swelling.
Medication – Anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen may also be helpful to limit swelling. Changing your medication does with changes in season could also help to manage pain.
Always consult your doctor before taking or changing any medication.
In summary motion is lotion so get moving and keep the winter blues away
Speak to you soon
Christine "the Captain" Cox.