Can Your Knee Pain Predict Winter Weather?

Remember when you were younger and your grandmother would say, “My elbow’s acting up; it’s going to rain.” Or your uncle would rub his knee and say, “A cold snap’s coming.” You thought they were… well, crazy… until, sure enough, the skies open up and the temperature plummeted. Is this just coincidence, an old wives’ tale that sometimes comes true? Can your knee pain really predict winter weather? Let’s find out!

 

The Evidence Is In

While medical professionals and researchers are not quite sure why both scientific and anecdotal evidence strongly links weather and joint pain. A study from Tufts University, for example, found that for every 10-degree drop in temperature, there is a corresponding increase in arthritis-related pain.

Another study looked at weather data and online searches for terms like “arthritis” and “joint pain.” Once temperatures reached 86 degrees, there was a sharp decline in this type of search activity. This is not true of other searches, such as “stomach pain.” This indicates that weather does, in fact, play a role in the flare-up of chronic joint pain.

But why does weather impact those with musculoskeletal issues like knee and neck pain and arthritis? A likely culprit, many scientists agree, is the higher levels of humidity combined with a drop in barometric pressure. Barometric pressure is a measure of the weight exerted on the Earth by the air. Lower pressure = higher levels of pain?

Perhaps. Drops in barometric pressure occur as bad weather is moving in; it also means that there is less pressure exerted on our bodies. This can lead to slight swelling of the tissues, which in turn may lead to joint irritation and pain. When you add cold to the mix, it can make joints, muscles, and ligaments much stiffer and painful.

The trifecta seems to lower barometric pressure and temperature and a rise in humidity. So, yes, your knee may be more accurate than the meteorologist delivering the forecast!

What Can You Do About Weather-Related Knee Pain?

Move to Florida or San Diego? No, sorry! Aches and pains strike in in mild climates too: remember, the three factors we mentioned above are the likely causes, and they occur regardless of the overall climate.

So, what can you do if you suffer from discomfort or pain related to weather?

  • Keep in shape! Regular exercise is critical for everybody. Whether you’re into hardcore circuit training or walks around the block, aim to do this several times a week. Add on some stretching and/or yoga to increase flexibility and keep your joints healthy.
  • If you are experiencing pain and it is difficult to do your regular exercise, try swimming or working out in a warm pool. It’s excellent for your health, and you can loosen stiff muscles, strengthen joints, and alleviate discomfort.
  • Talk to your doctor about an anti-inflammatory medication. This is particularly important if you have pain associated with a single joint (e.g. your knee).
  • Visit Kordonowy Chiropractic Center. We can help you develop a customized plan to maintain mobility and flexibility, relieve pain, and help you live your best, fullest life - even if the weather outside is frightful.

Your knee may be able to predict winter weather, but it doesn’t need to keep you from doing the activities you need and want to do. Schedule a visit with us today!

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17466654