Does weather affect joint pain?
Here's what you can do about it
Did your grandparents use to be able to ‘feel it in their bones’ when a storm was coming?
Research suggests as many as two-thirds of people with chronic joint pain believe there’s a connection between their pain and changes in the weather1, and many physicians will report that more people, feel stiffness and aches on rainy or cold days.
However, is there a scientific link between the weather and pain?
“The notion that certain symptoms and weather go hand in hand has persisted since antiquity, however research on the connection between weather and pain is not exactly clear,” says Dr Martha Mackay, Scientific Officer at Actegy Health. “Things such as air pressure, temperature humidity, and precipitation all come into play which makes it difficult to pinpoint the exact reason people feel weather impacts their pain.”
Of course there are a few theories about the relationship. One is that people with joint pain may be sensitive to changes in barometric pressure. Therefore, when cartilage inside a joint is worn away, nerves in the exposed bones might pick up on changes in pressure. Changes in air pressure may also make tendons, muscles, and any scar tissue expand and contract, which can create pain in joints affected by arthritis. The viscous joint fluid, which is supposed to reduce friction between the bones in the joints, can also become thicker in the cold weather and that causes joint stiffness and pain.
“Another common theme is that during winter months people are moving less, which can be a contributor to aches and pains. People have a natural instinct to hibernate in winter, but a lack of physical activity can affect blood circulation causing joints to become stiff,” explains Dr Mackay.
Winter circulation and managing weather-affected pain
Independent of what the studies show, pain is unique to the individual and there is plenty that can be done at home to relieve joint pain. It is not necessary to pick up and move to a different climate!
- Keep warm: When temperatures drop, try to keep yourself warm. Start by dressing warmly using layers. Pay special attention to the head, hands, and feet, as the majority of heat is lost from the body's extremities. Take warm showers or baths, apply hot compresses or heating pads to the affected joints, use an electric blanket at night, or crank up the heat inside your home.
- Exercise: It is important to keep a healthy weight and stay active. Exercise that’s gentle on the joints, like yoga or swimming, will help build up muscle and bone strength. Start with gentle stretches first. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about specific exercises that can help you manage joint pain and stiffness. Exercise doesn't have to be boring. Anything that keeps you moving works. Walking around shopping centres, playing with children, or using the stairs instead of the elevator, can all help.
- Reduce swelling and improve circulation: If swelling is an impediment to exercise, improving circulation might help. Revitive Circulation Booster is a drug-free therapy option using electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) that may offer people relief from symptoms of swelling and poor circulation. It is the only device of its kind to be endorsed by the Australian Physiotherapy Association and registered as a medical device with the Therapeutic Goods Administration*
- General health: Make sure you take care of your health in general, like with good nutrition and getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep can worsen pain and your mood, regardless of the weather. If you’re already feeling an increase in pain from the weather, short-changing your sleep will make matters even worse.
“Everyone living with pain is different. If you’ve noticed that your symptoms worsen in specific types of weather, talk to your doctor to find a treatment plan that works for you. So when your joints start to warn you of miserable weather ahead, plan a warm routine of indoor exercise, rustle up your cosy clothing, or book yourself a two-month holiday to a warmer destination!” finished Dr Mackay.
Consult with your health care professional before use. Do not use if fitted with an electronic implanted device such as a heart pacemaker or Automatic Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (AICD), you are pregnant, being treated for, or have symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): such as pain, swelling and tenderness, heavy ache, warm or red skin in the leg. Always read the label. Follow the instructions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Revitive is a complement to your existing treatment plan.
About Actegy Health AU/NZ - Makers of Revitive
Actegy is a family-owned company started in 2003 with a mission to create life-changing drug-free health solutions that enable people to get more out of life. Over the last decade, Actegy Health has continued to develop and improve its range of products, working with designers, engineers and medical experts from leading UK universities. Revitive products are medical devices which have been rigorously tested to ensure their efficiency and safety.
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