How many movies can you name which have a dramatic scene where there’s rain pouring down outside the glass window, or soaking the hero as he kisses the girl, or that cliff hanger fight scene, they’re countless, and for good reason. Rain is a powerful element, and while it’s been known to spoil many a-weekend, we couldn’t live without it. But why is it that we feel achy and extra sore when it rains, is there a connection between rain and how our bodies feel? Without a doubt, the answer is yes.
In our practice, we often hear our patients complain that their pain increases when it rains, we even have patients that claim that their aching joints can predict the weather. This isn’t just crazy talk folks; there’s actually a scientific connection behind all this. In a 2007 study conducted by Tufts University in Boston, they found that for every 10 degree drop in temperature and atmospheric pressure, there’s a corresponding increase in joint pain. Here’s why: In our joints there are sensory receptors called baroreceptors which respond to changes in the atmospheric pressure. These receptors begin to react when there’s low atmospheric pressure, so as the humidity increases, like when it’s going to rain these receptors let us know about it.
Now, it’s important to note that not everyone has this telepathic ability to predict the weather; it’s mostly those that suffer from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, or other joint problems. When the atmospheric pressure changes, the pressure inside the joint also changes, and those that are suffering from arthritic problems will feel these changes more because they have less cartilage to provide cushioning. Most of the time, it’s the weight bearing joints that are mostly effected by the weather, like, knees, hips, but it can also be the shoulders, elbows and fingers.
Ok, so now we see the connection between joints and weather, but we don’t have to take it lying down, there are things to do that’ll help decrease bad weather symptoms. Applying over the counter analgesic creams like Biofreeze, or Icy Hot will help reduce or eliminate pain, there’s also prescription strength Anti-inflammatory creams that your physician may recommend. A hot shower or bath will help increase circulation to the joints, as will the application of hot packs. Basic stretching and light activity will also help circulate the blood and relieve painful symptoms. But of course treating the underlying problems, like arthritis or joint injury is ultimately the best action. Physical Therapy can be a powerful tool to combat any joint dysfunction, and here at Trinity Rehab we offer comprehensive programs that treat a wide array of joint conditions. If you have any questions regarding this article, or any other topics please contact us at any of our locations at trinity-rehab.com.