According to the New Jersey Metropolitan Pain Consultants, the heat and humidity of summer can affect your joints in several painful ways.
High humidity and changes in barometric pressure can increase your joint pain. According to a Science Daily article quoting The Rothman Institute of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, your joints contain baroreceptors, which respond to barometric changes often associated with thunderstorms and severe summer weather.
If the tightness, stiffness and pain in your arthritic knee says, “There’s a storm coming,” it’s probably more accurate than most weathermen. Arthritis wears away the cushioning structures in the knee. When the tendons, ligaments, muscles and synovial fluid in your joints expand in response to the dropping barometric pressure, you can feel it.
You can find pain relief by using non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS), massage, supplements and ice or heat therapy. If your joint pain persists, call your orthopedic specialist about steroid injections. They can help relieve knee pain caused by a dropping barometer.
High temperatures and dehydration can affect your joint’s fluid levels. Less fluid means less lubrication. Less lubrication means more friction, which causes inflammation and pain. The cartilage that cushions your joints has high water content. When you sweat and don’t drink enough fluids, you decrease the cartilage’s cushioning effect, which can cause pain.
Heat and humidity can make it harder to deal with chronic pain. When it’s hot and humid, people can get cranky and irritable. Since dealing with heat and dealing with pain are both emotionally draining, coping with both of them at the same time can intensify the pain.
Inactivity stiffens your joints. When temperatures and humidity rise, it’s hard to find the motivation to move. Just walking across the room can have you breaking into a sweat. If your joints hurt, it’s tempting to hang out on the coach in front of the air conditioner.
But, it may not be the best idea. When you remain in one position for a long period of time, your joints become stiff. It can be hard to get moving, again.
If heat and humidity are keeping you down, use cold packs or a cold cloth on your neck and face to feel cooler. Drinking iced lemonade or flavored water can also help you cool off. If you choose to sit, don’t stay in the same position. Every 20 minutes, stand up or walk around for at least 5 minutes. It will help your body counteract the negative effects of sitting.
If your joints hurt more in the summer than at other times during the year, talk to your healthcare clinician. Your clinician may adjust your medications to help you avoid dehydration. He or she may prescribe specific exercises or recommend you drink more water. With a little planning, you can minimize your joint’s response to the highs and lows of hot summer weather.
If you want to speak with an orthopedic specialist, visit Ministry Health Care or Affinity Health System. Simply type orthopedics in the specialty area and you will have a listing of orthopedic experts in our healthcare group. Find one in your area and give them a call.