You're not imagining it. Your arthritic pain worsens when there is moisture in the air, according to "Arthritis Today," a publication of The Arthritis Foundation. You may be the first one to detect that rain is on its way. Your family and friends should pay heed because there is no better indicator of approaching weather than the signs your body is giving you.
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Low Barometric Pressure
Load-bearing joints, such as the shoulders, hips, hands, knees and elbows, as well as muscles are most likely to be effected by moisture and damp weather, Jane Brody wrote for "The New York Times." When it is damp and rainy, the barometric pressure is usually low. The nerves in your joints, called sensory nerves, react to the changes in the pressure in the atmosphere. That's when you begin aching. Sensory nerves consist of baroreceptors that know when the weather is changing and the barometric pressure is low. Joint aches and pains and swelling will occur when the baroreceptors respond to the change in the air pressure. Baroreceptors are most likely to react when the atmosphere moves to moist from dry.
If you're suffering from achy muscles and inflamed joints, a drop in the barometric pressure, which is an indication that wet weather is on its way, may be the reason because the pressure change can ignite inflammation.
When the barometric pressure falls due to approaching damp weather, your tendons, muscles, bones and ligaments adapt to the changing pressure by getting bigger. When these body parts expand, the nerves in your body send out pain signals. In fact, a sudden plummeting or rising barometric pressure can cause an arthritis sufferer even more grief than a regular pattern of weather, Dr. Robert N. Jamison of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston told "The New York Times."
Most arthritis patients experience substantial increases in pain before and during significant changes in the weather, particularly when there are thunderstorms or a downpour during the summer, Dr. Javad Parvizi of the Rothman Institute and an associate professor of orthopaedic surgery at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, told "Science Daily." Sufferers of a condition called fibromyalgia, which results in a bodywide pain in your muscles, joints, soft tissues and tendons, are also apt to hurt more when the pressure drops.
Fluid and Cartilage
The fluid in your joints, as well as the pressure inside the joint, can fluctuate when air pressure changes. Arthritis sufferers are more inclined to notice the weather changes because they don't have sufficient amounts of cartilage to provide cushioning in their joints. Sometimes, the pain occurs because of inflammatory mediators that surround the joints.
If you are suffering, apply either hot or cold compresses on your painful joint. Getting a massage may help relieve the pain in your aching muscles. Taking non-steroidal inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, also helps relieve the pain of aching joints and muscles.
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- "The New York Times"; For Chronic Pain Sufferers, Change, Not Weather, May Hurt; Jane Brody; June 1995
- "Arthritis Today"; Weather and Pain; Brenda Goodman; March 2009
- "Science Daily"; Science News Share Blog Cite Print Email BookmarkPeople With Joint Pain Can Really Forecast Thunderstorms; June 2008