The Weather and Arthritis: Does Rain Increase Pain?

Why does rain and cold seem to increase arthritis pain?

man's hands with arthritis pain

Do your joints ache when rain is in the forecast?

People whose arthritis seems to flare before or after it rains wonder if damp weather is making their arthritis worse. Rheumatologists say they get this question a lot, even though not much evidence supports a link between sore joints and damp weather.

Elaine Husni, MD, a rheumatologist at Cleveland Clinic’s Orthopaedic & Rheumatologic Institute, considers why arthritis pain goes up when the rain comes down.  “Some people believe that when you drop the barometric pressure, your air pressure, that sometimes your tissues can swell.” Dr. Husni says. “When your tissues swell in an already inflamed joint, sometimes that can push against muscles and nerves in the area and make it appear more painful,” she adds.

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Dr. Husni says that weather does not cause arthritis or make it worse. She says it just may alter the symptoms a bit for that day.

Many of her patients tell her cooler, damp weather is worst, so Dr. Husni says to pay close attention to the weather report and anticipate what’s coming. She says if you know that damp weather bothers you, then you can make some arrangements for that day.

“You might want to bring some extra sweaters or gloves, something that will kind of shield you from the cold and the dampness,” she says. Dr. Husni notices that many of her patients tell her warm weather actually makes their joints feel better, so summer offers them some relief.

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