Rainy Days and Arthritis: Is There a Link?

June 14, 2013

Is there is link between arthritis pain and bad weather?

If you ask this question to those with arthritis, many of them would say yes. Some of them would tell you that their symptoms feel worse in cold, rainy days than in warm, sunny days.

A theory of this link is that bad weather causes the air pressure to drop. And the drop of the air pressure causes the tissues around the arthritis joints to swell, which makes the pain worse.

However, studies have yet to prove this theory to be true. Some physicians do not believe there is a link between bad weather and arthritis. They reason that, even if bad weather like a rainy day does make the joints swell a little bit more because of a drop in air pressure, the change shouldn’t be big enough to make a noticeable impact. After all, the taking off of an air plane causes more air pressure drop. But that does not seem to cause arthritis or make the arthritis pain worse.

But if there is no link between bad weather and arthritis, why people feel worsened pain in rainy days?

The following are a few popular explanations.

First, people tend to feel depressed in bad weather, such as a gloomy, rainy day. They may feel trapped, and they don’t feel like doing anything. And all of these negative feelings could make the arthritis pain less tolerable.

Second, in bad weather, people generally stay inside the house longer. They feel less motivated to exercise. Instead, they may spend more time in bed, watch TV, or sit in front of a computer. After a while, the muscles could tense up and cause sore back or pain.

Experts also suspect that psychology may play a role. If people believe there is a link between bad weather and arthritis pain, they’ll literally feel the pain worsens as soon as they notice a storm is coming. Does this mean the pain is not real? No. But it does show the effect of mental power.

So, is there, or is there not, a link between arthritis and bad weather?

Well, current studies seem to suggest not. But if you have arthritis and you believe bad weather makes the pain worse, the following tips may help.

  1. Put on more clothes. If warm weather makes you feel more comfortable, keep yourself warm by putting on an extra layer of clothes during cold days. The warmth could help relax your muscles and make your body less stiff.
  2. Sip a cup of herbal tea. Many spices such as turmeric and ginger are natural pain killers. For centuries, the Chinese have been using them to treat cold, pain, and inflammation. Next time when clouds start to gather, treat yourself with a cup of hot herbal tea. The hot liquid not only help you warm up, it could also ease your arthritis pain. However, if you are preparing for surgery or taking blood thinning medications, talk to your doctor before you drink a lot of herbal tea to avoid any potential adverse interactions.
  3. Exercise as much as you can.Appropriate exercise can help relax muscles, enhance circulation, and relieve pain. If you don’t feel like going to the gym to work out in rainy days, try stretch at least. A few minutes gentle stretching could be just what you need to avoid the pain and stiffness flare up.
  4. Dehumidify your house. If high humidity bothers you, use a dehumidifier to reduce the humidity level in the air.