Ever noticed your joints aching when the weather is about to change? You’re far from alone! Some people swear that their achy knee or hip gives a more reliable forecast than the Met Office, but is there any truth to this old wives’ tale? It turns out there is…
Why the weather affects your joint pain
There’s always been a wealth of anecdotal evidence about the weather-pain connection. Inconclusive studies haven’t quite cleared things up, with some studies saying that low barometric pressure increased pain in osteoarthritis patients, and others saying that rising barometric pressure increased pain. So what’s the real story?
Researchers aren’t entirely sure, but what is becoming obvious is that changes in the weather can cause pain. The Arthritis Foundation advises that changes in the barometric pressure – which is essentially the weight of the air – play a bigger role in pain than the barometric pressure itself. The NHS agrees, saying that changes in the weather increase pain levels in people who have fibromyalgia.
There are a few theories as to why this might happen:
1. We know that changes in barometric pressure can cause your tendons, muscles and tissues to expand and contract, which can lead to pain.
2. We also know that low temperatures can increase the thickness of your joint fluids, making your joints feel stiffer and more painful when you move.
3. When the weather changes from warm to cold, people are more likely to stay indoors and become less active, and we know that physical activity is extremely important in managing joint pain.
How can you ease joint pain when the weather changes?
Exercise. Years ago, we might have taken to our beds with joint pain, but the NHS now says that exercise “is one of the most important treatments for people with osteoarthritis”. Schedule time to do some light, low-impact exercise every day, such as swimming, cycling, walking or yoga. Even on days you don’t feel like it, try to keep moving with some gentle stretches or a wander around the garden.
Plan. Use the Weather Flare app to see when weather changes or triggers are approaching. On good days, you can make an effort to stay active and keep your joints mobile. On the worst days, you can make sure you don’t have any strenuous tasks planned so you can stay comfortable at home.
Keep warm. When the temperature drops, layer up and keep yourself toasty. Warm showers or baths, hot water bottles and heat packs can soothe your sore joints and help to keep the pain at bay.
Look after your general health. When you’re in pain, it’s more important than ever to eat healthily, stay hydrated, and get a good night’s sleep. You’ll feel stronger and more energetic, and you’ll be physically and mentally better equipped to cope with the fluctuations in your pain. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit, keep a water bottle with you to sip on throughout the day, and try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
The Weather Flare app is specially designed for people with chronic pain conditions such as joint pain. We know first-hand how the weather can affect joint pain, so we want to help you take control and fight back. We’re currently in the beta testing phase of the app, and we’d love your feedback so we can make it even more useful. Download it today on iOS and Android and tell us what you think!