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Why Rain Causes Joint Stiffness for Arthritis and RSI

Posted Oct 13 2009 3:34pm

The first major storm of the season hit the San Francisco Bay Area today, causing freeway snarls, nearly–drowned carsand a lot of stiffness in my joints.

Why does rain and weather change affect joint stiffness? I had to do some research to find out.

Arthritis sufferers in particular have been reporting this phenomenon for many years, and the first study was done in 1961. They used a small sample of only 12 subjects, and found that the combination of high humity and low barometric pressure caused the increased stiffness.

When air pressure is low, tissues in your joints can expand and put more pressure on the joint, which makes it harder to move. The cold can also slow down our bodies and make it a little harder to get around.

One patient felt so much better after a vacation that he allegedly decided to build a room in his house that replicated the ideal conditions of his trip. His new chamber controlled and increased the air pressure and helped him improve and get off his meds. As a result, his doctor conducted a study of 30 patients on a similar machine and reported that the increased air pressure helped patients feel better. However, there were side effectsear pressure and sinus pressure among them.

I certainly don’t expect that any of us will be building our own special rooms to get over our joint stiffness. But there are some simpler steps

• stay warm…wear gloves
• use heat packs and bundle up
• use a dehumidifier – since research shows the combo of low pressure and high humidity increases stiffness, dehumidifying should help to improve the problem
• try soaking the joint in warm water or contrast baths
• use paraffin wax treatments (directions here )
• stretch and stay limber during the day

Hope you enjoy the rain, stay dry, warm, and flexible!

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