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Why Do People's Joints Ache When It Rains?

Updated: Jan 7, 2018

Some people experience pain in their joints due to changes in the weather. Find out why this happens.

Over the years, Flagler Beach has experienced more than its share of storms and hurricanes. During the warmest months of the year, it often rains every day. Damp, rainy conditions such as these can prompt phone calls to our chiropractic clinic from people experiencing painful aching joints. Did you know that some people are actually able to forecast the weather based on their aching hip or aching knees? In fact, years ago ancient sailors often valued crew members who had the ability to detect weather changes based on how their joints felt.

Some people are especially sensitive to fluctuations in humidity and barometric pressure. They may get headaches, sinus pressure and joint pain with changes in the weather. Individuals with Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis are particularly sensitive because they already have inflammation in some of their joints. Any fluctuations in the surrounding environment will cause changes in the internal pressure inside the fluid-filled capsules of special joints in the body called synovial joints. Synovial joints are found in the following areas: the elbows, shoulders, knees, hips, spine, and the carpal bones of the wrist. These joints are also loaded with sensory receptors (nerve endings) that quickly convey pressure and pain signals to the brain.

Rainy conditions with a drop in temperature can also cause problems within the body. Even healthy joints that are able to withstand changes in temperature or barometric pressure can sometimes become overwhelmed when both changes occur simultaneously. This can cause unpleasant symptoms including joint aches, pain, swelling, and stiffness.

Although cold temperatures typically decrease pain in the body (such as pain from swelling, ligament sprains, and muscle strains), cold usually has the opposite effect on arthritis pain.

Because of this, symptoms are frequently worse for people who:

  • Suffer from arthritis

  • Experience damp, rainy conditions

  • Live in a cold climate

Even though we can’t control the weather, there are steps we can take to reduce the amount of discomfort associated with rainy conditions. Indoor temperatures can be kept at a comfortable level. Warm packs or compresses can be used to soothe irritated joints. Daily stretching routines can reduce stiffness and improve circulation. Also, remaining active, even during the coldest months of the year will help our joints to remain painless and healthy.

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