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Stiffness, aches and pains are often associated with changes in weather, especially the falling temperatures of winter. UChicago Medicine rheumatologist Anisha Dua, MD, MPH, explains the whys and hows of weather-related joint pain and what you can do to reduce your risk.
There is no one explanation for why dropping temperatures affect your joints. One theory relates to drops in barometric pressure, which causes tendons, muscles, and the surrounding tissues to expand. Because of the confined space within the body, this can cause pain, especially in joints affected by arthritis.
Everyone’s body reacts to fluctuating barometric pressure, but people with arthritis and those with chronic pain are more vulnerable to feeling discomfort. Also, bad weather can affect people’s moods; if you are sad or depressed, the perception of pain can be magnified.
If you experience any unusual or new symptoms with your joints — such as persistent swelling, redness, difficulty putting pressure on, or using, the joint — it’s a good idea to consult your physician. If you have consistent or severe pain that becomes disabling, seek medical care right away,
Anisha Dua, MD, MPH, is an expert in rheumatology. Dr. Dua has a special interest in teaching patients, medical students and residents how to achieve optimal management of autoimmune rheumatic conditions, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.Read Dr. Dua's physician profile