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Cold Weather Affects Arthritis – True or False?

Cold Weather Affects Arthritis – True or False?


Arthritis is a disease that causes the joints of the body to become swollen and painful. The most common forms of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Both of these diseases are incurable but they can be treated with physiotherapy and medication to relieve chronic pain and improve movement of the joints.

So Why Is My Arthritis Pain Worse In The Winter?

The change in air pressure, otherwise known as barometric pressure, can affect the joints in the body. Barometric pressure is the weight of the atmosphere that surrounds us and when the air pressure is low, the tissues surrounding your joints expand (similar to an expanding balloon) and this can cause pain for some people. When pressure is felt on the joints, some arthritis sufferers claim they can feel the changes in the air pressure in their joints.

Here at Ballsbridge Physiotherapy Clinic, some arthritis patients have reported being affected by barometric pressure in both warm weather conditions and also in colder and stormier weather conditions. It is said that changes in the weather such as barometric pressure, humidity, and temperature could theoretically affect the synovial fluid. This fluid lines and lubricates the joints and barometric pressure may have a chemical effect on the fluid that increases inflammation and causes pain.

What Can I Do To Stop The Pain?

Gentle exercise can help to alleviate the pain associated with arthritis. If you exercise the affected joints before going outside this will reduce the impact of the cold air on the joints. Exercise will not only loosen stiff joints but will help to keep you fit and healthy. Treatments such as dry needling to tight muscles help to relieve the symptoms of arthritis. Supplements such as fish oils and glucosamine-chondroitin may help with the arthritis, but further high quality research is needed to confirm this.

There is no definitive evidence that moving to a warmer or drier climate provides a cure for aching joints. Some doctors report that many patients claim that the pain disappears for a while, only to return a few months later.

Although there is not a lot of evidence to support the joint pain and weather connection, there are a number of things you can do during the cold weather to alleviate your arthritis pain. These include:

  • Dress warmly
  • Exercising inside
  • Swimming in a heated pool
  • Taking a vitamin D supplement.

If you would like more information regarding arthritis and cold weather, feel free to contact us here.

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