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How Does the Weather Affect Your Joints?

People in general have long held that the weather and joint pain is connected. But can the weather, or changes in it, really cause joint pain and inflammation? The quick answer to that question is, no one really knows for sure. Why has science not been able to come up with an answer to this long debated question? As the McGill Office for Science and Society puts it, "joint pain is complicated, weather is a result of many interrelated variables, and pain is very hard to compare". That makes researching the matter and coming up with concrete evidence really, really hard. 

Consider some of the factors: Researchers can't control the biggest variable - weather, they can't perform a blind study because the participants will always be aware of the weather outside, they can't perform invasive procedures to see what is going on in the joints when weather conditions shift and change. You get the picture - it's a tough area to study. So what are some of the (albeit, unproven) theories?

Linking Weather to Joint Pain

Changes in barometric pressure causes joint pain. Some researchers believe that changes in barometric pressure can cause muscles, tendons and tissues to expand or contract and cause pain. They theorize that when the barometric pressure is low, joint fluids experience less pressure and become inflamed, causing pain. This theory seems to be supported by the fact that barometric pressure drops before storms and many people say their joint pain can predict the imminent arrival of bad weather. On the other hand, driving in a mountain range and even getting in an elevator can cause more extreme drops in barometric pressure, yet few people would link those events with increased joint pain. It appears the jury is still out on this one. 

Cold weather and humidity cause joint pain. Researchers believe that colder temperatures contribute to thicker and less dynamic joint fluid, which could explain why people tend to feel stiff in cold weather. Humidity and precipitation have strong anecdotal evidence of causing pain, but again, this is very difficult to measure because we can't control the weather and the causes can be easily muddled since low barometric pressure and precipitation happen in conjunction with each other. 

Shifts in the weather cause joint pain. Other researchers believe it isn't the weather itself but rather changes in the weather that contribute to joint pain. These studious scientists believe that exposure to change, especially in cases where people have joint "wear-and-tear," causes pain because joints take time to adapt to new conditions. They believe delayed musculoskeletal response can cause pain. 

Joint pain is a result of weather induced mood changes and inactivity. Yet other researchers think that joint pain has less to do with bio-physiological factors and more to do with psychological ones. They believe that gloomy weather can make people feel sad and sadness increases a person's pain response. In addition, bad weather can cause people to be inactive for longer stretches of time, which also contributes to stiffness and pain. 

Natural Remedies for Joint Pain

No matter the weather, there are things you can do to alleviate joint pain. Over the years, we've put together several articles to address natural pain management of back, neck and joint pain. Here are a few articles to get you started:

Tried it all and still experiencing joint pain? Come in for a free consultation! We can discuss your specific concerns and come up with a natural pain relief plan together - no matter the weather.

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