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When your joints start to feel a little bit stiffer; when your bones ache more—arthritis sufferers come to one conclusion: cold season is upon us.

Is there any merit to this?

As an arthritis sufferer, it’s almost impossible to say that weather doesn’t affect our joints when the seasons change. Now, fall is here—and you can be sure that our pain levels will rise as the breeze blows colder.

Here’s what science has to say about that–

Researchers, to this day, are unsure why arthritis symptoms—specifically pain and stiffness—increases when the weather shifts.

One prevailing theory however is that certain weather conditions prompt changes in the atmosphere, such as a drop in barometric pressure, which leads to swelling in the joint capsule.

In good weather, barometric pressure is high. And in this case, the pressure pushes against our body from the outside, which prevents tissues, including those that surround our joints, from expanding. During colder seasons, the barometric pressure drops. This means there’s less pressure that can help push against our body, allowing our tissues to expand, resulting in added pressure to our joints that lead to pain.

It’s a great theory, but further research delivered conflicting results. True, low barometric pressure have shown to affect pressure in the joints; but other studies also show that our bodies tend to find a new equilibrium as it adjusts to the climate they’re exposed to.

Where do we go from here?

Fact is, research has yet to give definitive proof that weather does in fact affect our joints. But when you can literally feel weather changes in your bones, you can’t just sit back and wait until science explains why.

Here’s our take on it: no matter what science says, your pain is unique to you. And if you notice that pain and stiffness increases following specific weather patterns, it’s not fair to say that your symptoms aren’t real just because science can’t explain it yet. So until then, we encourage you to try the following to manage your weather-related symptoms–

  • Stay warm by applying a hot compress on the affected area. This can help relax your muscles and minimize the pain symptoms.
  • To minimize swelling, wear compression products on the specific area. This can help increase and regulate blood flow and manage swelling.
  • Exercise whenever you can. It can help loosen up stiff joints and ease joint pain. Ask a trusted physician about specific exercises that you can do given your limitations.
  • Take time out to destress. Arthritis sufferers are prone to depression so finding ways to improve your mood can definitely help.
  • Get a good night’s rest to prevent pain from worsening.

It’s unfortunate that science doesn’t have a lot of answers for us when it comes to finding the real connection between the weather and arthritis, but it doesn’t make your symptoms less valid. So just remember that you’re not alone in this—there numerous others who feel the impact of weather changes the same way you do and can relate to the challenges that you’re going through.

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