Most arthritis sufferers have claimed for years that their joint pain changes with the weather. Some say soreness and stiffness gets worse as the temperature drops. Others say joint pain flares up when it rains.
Arthritis is a general term for more than 100 rheumatic diseases. These diseases can affect joints, joint membranes, and connective tissue. Almost all of these conditions cause pain and stiffness. And unfortunately, joints are needed for the large variety of tasks and movements performed each day. Arthritis pain can have a big impact on the quality of a person’s life.
It might be helpful to know then, that a new study confirms that weather does play a role in the management of arthritis pain.
Researchers at Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston studied data concerning U.S. patients with knee arthritis. They compared recorded pain flare-ups with meteorological information in the patient’s local area.
They discovered that the pain flare-ups tended to occur when the temperature dropped or the barometric pressure increased (which happens just before it rains).
The researchers speculated that cold temperatures may affect the range of motion of a joint, making it painful to move beyond a certain point. They also thought that the cold might affect the synovial fluid around joints. Synovial fluid lubricates the action of joints.
Atmospheric pressure may play a role in stabilizing joints. When pressure drops outside due to changes in weather, it is possible that the joints become less stable and more susceptible to pain and inflammation.
The researchers concluded by noting that 19th-century beliefs that arthritis sufferers may fare better in climates that are sunny and warm year-round may be partly true.
If you can’t move to a warm climate, here are some other tips for easing arthritic pain:
— Add lots of omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. Two great sources of omega-3s are freshwater fish and flaxseed or flaxseed oil. Omega-3s have a protective effect on joints, keeping them fluid and working pain-free.
— Eat selenium-rich foods like liver, tuna, and barley. Selenium is a potent antioxidant which helps fight the symptoms of arthritis.
— Drink a cup of green tea each day — it has been shown to reduce inflammation.
— On the coldest days, or during a damp and rainy period consider having a massage. A trained masseuse can help relieve muscular pain, stimulate blood flow, and increase relaxation during periods of joint pain flare-ups.