Studies have shown that rises in humidity can cause stiffness and swelling in joints, making it possible for some folks to predict the weather … to a certain degree.Santa Rosa Orthopaedics specializes in bone and joint-related conditions, injuries and complaints and recommends patient-specific joint pain relief treatments for weather related joint pain.


As many as two-thirds of arthritis sufferers believe they know when the weather is changing, and often they are correct because the decrease in temperature or increase in humidity can actually worsen joint pain symptoms. The weather predictive value of joint pain has long been viewed as less than scientific by most healthcare providers so when the Wall Street Journal decided to ask scientists recently if there was some factual evidence behind all the tales of weather-related pain – conclusions were mixed. The bottom line is that many people are affected by changes in the weather, but scientists still don’t really understand how it works, despite numerous clinical studies. Still, the most likely suspects are humidity, temperature and barometric pressure.


Can Your Creaky Joints Predict the Weather

One such study was conducted back in 2003 involved 154 adults living in Florida all over the age of 49 suffering from arthritis of the neck, hand, shoulder or knee. Among these, women with arthritis of the hand were more sensitive to the effects in the rise of barometric pressure than were men. Another study conducted in 2007 was able to come up with evidence by working with 200 people aged 60 and older who all suffered increased pain from arthritis of the knee as the barometric pressure changed. This study also demonstrated that a 10-degree decline in temperature would produce a marginal increase in knee pain.


The theory is that the connections between the joints which are naturally cushioned by sacs of fluid and trapped gasses may be affected by changes in pressure. This probably is due to the fact that muscles, tendons, bones and other connective tissues with differing densities naturally expand or contract in changing conditions. A significant drop in temperature also makes it difficult for blood to circulate as it should into extremities, and as result pain receptors become more sensitive. So while arthritis or other joint issues may not actually physically worsen, the pain can seem more intense. People suffering from arthritis, fibromyalgia or chronic inflammation from past injuries could feel irritation as changes in weather work to trigger sensory nerve cells as they relay pain signals to the brain.


On the flip side, certain weather conditions seem to actually relieve joint pain. In yet another study warm, high-pressure Chinook-type winds common to many parts of the United States were shown to have the effect of reducing patients’ neuropathic pain due to disease or injury. Although for other patients taking part in the study, this same type of warm climate appeared to increased complaints of migraines and sinus headaches.


Although websites such as the Weather Channel and AccuWeather provide searchable indexes that help predict the likelihood of joint pain based on barometric pressure, temperature, humidity and even wind; we encourage anyone suffering from prolonged symptoms of joint pain to seek treatment from a professional.


If you are suffering from chronic joint pain, visit with your orthopedic specialist to determine the best route of treatment, or call Santa Rosa Orthopaedic Medical Group at (707) 546-1922 for an appointment. In its efforts to bring the best outcomes to patients, SRO has set the model for exceptional orthopedic care for over 60 years.


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How Your Knees Can Predict the Weather