Meteorology 101: Your Joints and Seasonal Changes

fall leavesDo your toes tell you when it’s going to rain? Can your knees predict a drop in the temperature? If so, you are not a freak of nature, but rather a normal human being with arthritis or joint pain. And, you are not alone. Many Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute Beaches patients who suffer from joint pain or arthritis believe that their pain is influenced by the weather. Now that the change of seasons from summer to fall and from fall to winter is upon us, the resulting cooler to cold, wet weather may contribute to pain in your joints.

Research has been conducted, but the jury is still out due to conflicting results. Here are the theories:

• Drops in temperature associated with cooler and colder weather may cause joint pain.
A 2007 study at Tufts University found that each ten-degree drop in temperature brought about an increase in arthritis pain. Researchers found that joint fluid thickness was changed by colder temperatures, thus causing pain. Johns Hopkins Health Alerts reported on another study in Argentina. Patients with fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis felt more pain on days when the temperature was lower. It may be that an increase in pain in colder weather is due to a drop in a person’s pain threshold.

• Changes in barometric pressure may cause joint pain.
The 2007 Tufts University study found that increases in barometric pressure had an effect on knee pain. The Argentina study found that increases in pressure affected patients with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. It also found that drops in pressure contributed to hand pain in women. It is possible that drops in air pressure cause body tissues to expand. If this is the case, tissue that is already inflamed would swell even more to cause an increase in joint pain.

• Damp weather may cause joint pain. The Argentina study found that patients with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis were affected by an increase in pain when the humidity was high. As the weather gets colder and damper, it is less likely that people with arthritis or other joint pain issues will be getting the exercise that is needed to help alleviate arthritis and joint pain.

So what’s a body to do? It’s not as complicated as one would think. Simply taking a proactive approach to maintain joint health is perhaps the most effective course of action.

• Eat healthy. Foods that reduce inflammation, stop cartilage loss, and soothe pain are preferable. Include foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and high-fiber whole grains.

• Move it, move it, move it! Exercise helps lubricate the joints. Low-impact aerobics are easy on the joints. Weight lifting builds muscle that helps support joints. When the weather won’t cooperate, there are plenty of indoor options, including heated pools.

• Check with your JOI Beaches physician about taking supplements. Some of them may interfere or react badly with prescription or over-the-counter drugs.

If your joints are starting to tell you what the weather will be like before the local meteorologist does, please schedule an appointment for a consultation at Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute Beaches. One of our highly-skilled physicians will be happy to discuss your pain and ways to ensure that the weather doesn’t impact your lifestyle. Contact us today at 904-241-1204 or online at

Free Hip Pain Seminar

Dale A. Whitaker, MD will be speaking Wednesday, October 16, 2013 from 6:00PM – 7:00PM on hip pain. This seminar is for anyone suffering from severe hip pain, attend this free seminar to learn about your treatment options. Seminar will be held at the Baptist Beaches Hospital Conference Room, 1350 13th Avenue South Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250. Call today to RSVP at 800-256-1146 and mention the reservation code #1432N or visit seating is limited. Refreshments will be provided by DePuy Synthes Joint Reconstruction and all attendees will receive a complimentary Johnson & Johnson Red Cross Brand Safe Travels First Aid Kit. Come join us to learn what we can do to help you. Click the link for the full flyer. Free Hip Seminar Flyer

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