Heading into spring, South Florida will experience many temperature and humidity variations from day to day. But if you suffer from arthritis, you may not need to look outside to know when the weather is changing! Your joints may give you the news, loud and clear.
The connection between weather and RA symptoms has long been debated, but our patients frequently report that changes in the weather affect their degree of arthritis pain. From a scientific perspective, there seems to be no conclusive agreement or explanation for the link between the two. A recent Johns Hopkins study examining the link between weather and arthritis pain in 151 people living in Cordoba City, Argentina (a warm climate), found that patients “experienced more pain on days when the temperature was low, while people in the control group were unaffected by any of the weather conditions.” Another study followed 154 osteoarthritis sufferers who lived in Florida and found “no significant associations … between any of the weather conditions and osteoarthritis pain at any site, except for a slight association between rising barometric pressure and hand pain in women.”
Some medical experts studying the association have theorized the following weather-related causes for arthritis pain.
- Barometric pressure. Cold, rainy weather is accompanied by a drop in barometric pressure. This allows tissues in the body to swell, increasing pain.
- Temperature. Cold weather causes muscles to shiver to maintain body temperature, creating friction that causes pain in the joints. Another theory is that cold weather decreases individual activity levels, therefore allowing arthritis symptoms to worsen.
In conclusion, we must be careful not to generalize the influence of weather on an individual’s arthritis. Remember, the occurrence of arthritis doesn’t differ worldwide between dry and rainy locations, and moving to a drier area doesn’t necessarily relieve arthritis symptoms. But in our South Florida orthopaedic practice, weather does seem to affect the joint pain and stiffness of many of our patients who suffer from arthritis.
Fort Lauderdale Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine wants to provide the help and support you need to manage your arthritis symptoms, no matter the weather! To schedule a consultation, please call our office at (954) 400-5544.