Does Humidity Affect Arthritis? (4 Solutions)

Does Humidity Affect Arthritis? (4 Solutions)

Does your joint pain get worse while raining? Does it get better when it’s really hot? 

Well, you’re not the only one. Most people with joint pain can feel the weather changes – sometimes even before they happen.

But does humidity affect arthritis?:

  • It’s clear that rain worsens the pain
  • But is it because of the humid air?
  • Or it’s just a coincidence?

I tried to analyze the link between arthritis, weather and humidity. So here’s what I found out.



1. It’s The Pressure Worsening The Pain

That’s the #1 thing you should know:

  • it’s not the cold weather worsening your joint pain
  • it’s the change in barometric pressure

Now – what exactly is barometric pressure? It’s simple: the pressure of the air:

  • It drops whenever temperatures decrease
  • And it raises when it’s warmer outside

Does Humidity Affect Arthritis? (4 Solutions) 

But the question is – why does pressure affect arthritis? How exactly can it worsen the pain? Since we don’t actually feel it – why do out joints feel it?

To be honest – there isn’t a certain answer. But at this point, there are 2 theories:

#1 –  Cartilage problems:

  • your joints don’t have the whole cartilage around them
  • so your nerves are more exposed
  • in this way, they feel the pressure changes immediately
  • and that’s when the pain come sup

#2 – Muscle contractions:

  • lower pressure makes your muscles and tendons expand
  • they also get contracted
  • in this way, they become painful
  • so it’s not just the joints that hurt – it’s also your muscles and tendons

Now – we can’t really tell what’s the truth. But one thing is clear – air pressure does worsen joint pain.

Even though scientists can’t explain why, it’s a real fact.



2. Constant Temperatures Are Best

Even though there’s no scientific evidence, the climate is essential for arthritis.

Now – you probably imagine that hot weather is best for your joints.

And that’s true – but it’s not the best case scenario:

  • air pressure changes whenever temperatures change
  • if there’s 70°F one week and 90°F next week – your joints will still feel the change

So basically:

  • high temperatures don’t matter so much
  • it’s more important that they are constant

Instead of living in a place with 100°F in the summer and 50°F in the winter – it’s better to live in a place with 70°F all over the year.

So constant temperatures are way better than high ones. Do you get the point?

Obviously, hot weather is the best. But if there are frequent changes of pressure, your pain is still going to worsen.



3. Studies Can’t Explain

Now – it’s pretty clear that there’s a connection between arthritis and humidity.

Most of the studies conducted on this topic had the same conclusions:

  1. A 2015 study found that wet, winter days are more painful for OA patients.
  2. Another study from the same year concluded that sunny weather is better for people with RA.
  3. A 2007 trial showed that air pressure does influence joint pain – but they didn’t find out how.
  4. Many rheumatologists admit that there’s a link.

Does Humidity Affect Arthritis? (4 Solutions)

But here comes the interesting part. They couldn’t find the reason behind.

All studies agree that weather has to do with arthritis pain – but none of them can’t explain how or why.

Now – there are a few theories about what might be causing the pain:

  • cartilages loss – that leaves the nerves exposed so they can feel the pressure changed
  • muscle and joint contractions, due to cold air
  • low temperatures make the joint fluid thicker – so stiffness comes up

However, no study managed to prove that ones of these 3 is true.

So at this point, we can’t explain the link between arthritis and weather. It exists – but it has no explanation.



4. Weather Doesn’t Affect Everyone

Here’s a really interesting fact:

  • some people are immune to weather changes
  • they don’t feel any change in cold weather
  • their pain is the same whether it’s summer or winter

You may not believe it, but there’s a small number of people who aren’t affected by weather changes at all.

And once again, science has no explanation for that.

Is it because their cartilages aren’t that affected? Maybe they have a mild form of arthritis

We can’t tell – but you might be in that group if:

  • your pain is constant and doesn’t worsen in the winter
  • your joints don’t get stiffer before a storm
  • for you there’s no difference between hot and cold seasons (in terms of pain)

So if you’re one of those people – consider yourself lucky. All the ongoing weather changes are probably not going to affect your joints too soon.



4 Solutions For Humidity Changes

So now it’s pretty clear – humidity does affect joint pain, due to pressure changes. But what can you do about it?

  1. Obviously, a climate with constant temperatures would be the best solution.
  2. But you can’t move out just for the sake of your pain.

So there should be something else that you can do. Well, I managed to find 4 easy solutions for those periods with sudden weather changes.

Now – they’re not going to make miracles – but they will surely help, even a little.

#1. Heating Pads – heat is the best remedy for stiffness, I speak from experience:

  • use a heating pad or heat up a bottle with water
  • apply it on your stiff joint
  • keep it there for 2-3 minutes
  • your stiffness should go away faster than usual

#2. Essential Oil Massage – though they’re not a very strong remedy, these oils can help on the short them.

Use them to massage the painful joint and your pain should go lower in a few minutes.

The good news – you can use non-essential oils as well: Castor or Coconut oil work great, but CBD oil is probably the best one for arthritis.

Does Humidity Affect Arthritis? (4 Solutions)

#3. Epsom Salt Baths – just like heating pads, hot baths also help with stiffness:

  • make your joints loosen up
  • decrease the pain

Using Epsom salt isn’t a must – but it’s one of the cheapest bath salt, so it’s my top recommendation.

#4. Moving Around – some doctors blame the lack of movement for worsening your joint pain:

  • people tend to stay inside during wintertime 
  • so they can’t take long walk or run outside
  • for this reason, they mostly give up exercising

Now – you don’t need to run miles or work out. Simply moving around your home can help your joints get more active.



My Verdict – Does Humidity Affect Arthritis?

Short answer: Definitely. But it’s not the humid weather itself – it’s the change in pressure that worsens the pain.

The only problem is that we don’t know exactly why:

  • it could be because of cartilage loss
  • cold air could also thicken synovial fluid, making your joints stiffer
  • it could also be because of muscle and joint contractions

Until studies find out the real cause – we can’t really tell.

But one thing is clear – there’s a real connection between arthritis, weather and humidity. 

So for those of you who suffer from flareups in rainy days, there are some small tips that might help:

  • heating pads or hot bottles
  • massage oils
  • hot salty baths
  • more movement

However, none of them will manage to treat your pain completely. So in my opinion, supplements remain the best choice for the long term.

Heather Pharm.D.

Heather Tracy Foley is a Pharmacy graduate, Blogger and Author with a vast experience in health sciences. She has a particular interest in joint pain and rheumatology and spent several years studying health problems. You can find her on Pinterest or via email.

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