Why Do Joints Hurt When It Rains
“You’re walking along a street with your friend when it begins to rain. You decide not to go inside right away but instead head for an ice cream shop that’s just opened on this corner. While you stand outside waiting for your order, you notice that your knee hurts so much today that you think it must be broken.
The reason why your joint feels as if someone has hit it hard with a baseball bat is because there is water in your knee cartilage. The water causes the cartilage to swell up and lose its elasticity. As a result, it becomes less flexible and harder to move around.
When we talk about pain from swollen or inflamed joints, it is called rheumatic (or rheum) pain. In some cases, the swelling comes from a bacterial infection called gout. However, most types of rheumatic pain are caused by inflammation.
Rheumatoid arthritis is one form of inflammatory disease. It affects about 1 percent of people over age 20. People with rheumatoid arthritis suffer chronic pain throughout their bodies, including in bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons. These areas become damaged, scarred and deformed due to repeated use and lack of exercise. Inflammation also puts additional strain on the immune system and heart.
With an estimated 300 million people affected worldwide, osteoarthritis is another type of painful condition. Osteoarthritis occurs in the discs between joints, where the cartilage breaks down and allows bone to rub against bone. The breakdown of cartilage leads to bony outgrowths called “”bursitis.”” Bursitis often happens when there is too little space between two bones and results in intense inflammation. Other forms of arthritis include lupus, fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis.
Inflammation is a normal part of our body’s response to injury or infection. But while it’s necessary for fighting off bacteria and viruses, it can cause problems when it continues unchecked. For example, low-grade inflammation can lead to high blood sugar levels and insulin resistance — both risk factors for diabetes. High blood sugar can damage nerves and tissues, causing nerve degeneration, blindness, kidney failure and amputations. Inflammation can also contribute to many other diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
It isn’t easy to control inflammation; however, there are steps you can take to reduce symptoms and manage flare ups. Let’s start with how the weather can affect your joints. We’ll find out what causes joints to hurt during rainy days and learn what you can do to relieve discomfort.
What Causes Pain During Rainy Days?
Your joints contain fluid cushions made of liquid crystals. A healthy joint contains mostly water, but as mentioned earlier, certain conditions can change the amount of water within your joints. One such condition is known as dehydration. Dehydration means losing fluids through urine or bowel movements.
A dehydrated person will feel tired, weak and irritable. He or she might even experience headaches and muscle cramps. A person who drinks enough fluids daily should not develop these symptoms. Unfortunately, many people drink too few liquids each day. They don’t consider how important hydration is for good health, especially those who work outdoors or spend time doing physical labor.
Another problem related to moisture is cold temperatures. Your skin holds onto moisture at lower temperatures. Without moisture, your skin dries out and loses flexibility. Dry, cracked skin can lead to infections that require medical attention.
Finally, let’s discuss the effects of humidity. Humidity refers to the percentage of water vapor present in air. Most people prefer dry climates, but some individuals live in places with heavy rainfall. Even though they enjoy spending time outdoors, they still get wet when it rains. To avoid getting too wet, people exposed to excessive humidity need to wear protective clothing.
In addition to protecting yourself from moisture, you also want to protect your joints when it rains. Because joints contain lots of water, barometric pressure changes can make joints feel tight and sore.
Barometric pressure measures atmospheric pressure exerted upon us by the weight of the atmosphere above our heads. Barometric pressure varies according to location. Although it varies slightly with altitude, it typically remains constant. When barometric pressure changes, air expands or contracts. For instance, when barometric pressure falls, the air gets thinner and denser, resulting in higher wind speeds. On the contrary, when barometric pressure rises, the air gets thicker and lighter, reducing wind speed.
Air pressure increases during thunderstorms and volcanic eruptions. Also, when the earth releases trapped gases after earthquakes, air pressure tends to decrease. Air can expand when it heats up from sunlight. Therefore, the cooler evening breeze can actually help lower barometric pressure.
Joint Pain From Changes In Pressure
As mentioned previously, barometric pressure fluctuates naturally. During periods of extreme changes, whether up or down, joints can feel tight and uncomfortable. For example, if your barometric pressure suddenly drops, your lungs would normally fill with extra oxygen. At first, however, the increase in oxygen supply could cause irritation and itching. Similarly, if barometric pressure rises, your chest will constrict in order to hold in excess carbon dioxide. However, the sudden reduction in carbon dioxide intake could cause dizziness and nausea.
If you’ve ever experienced any of these reactions, then you know that changes in barometric pressure can cause discomforts. Fortunately, you can alleviate some of these pressures by wearing warm clothes indoors. Wearing layers helps keep you comfortable and reduces heat loss. Heat leaves your body through your feet. By keeping your feet warmer, you can slow down the rate of heat escape.
Warm socks and shoes are also helpful. Shoes that allow proper circulation of air also provide relief. Soaking your feet in hot water or applying petroleum jelly can help prevent cracking and blisters. Adding vitamin E to bathwater relieves dryness and keeps skin soft. Finally, using heating pads or heating stones placed on your skin can ease muscle aches and pains.
To conclude, it’s important to remember that inflammation is a natural process designed to fight invading organisms. However, prolonged inflammation can cause serious health risks. With a better understanding of how the weather affects your joints, you can take proactive measures to combat arthritis pain.”
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