Ochsner Health: Managing weather-related joint pain

Published 12:01 am Saturday, November 20, 2021

A lot of people say they can predict the weather based on how much their joints are hurting. There is a theory that says as barometric pressure drops, joints swell. This causes you to feel more pain. Barometric pressure is the weight of the atmosphere, which can trigger joint pain or headaches. Barometric pressure shifts during seasonal changes.

So, how can you manage it?

When it is cold: The best way to fight joint aches and pain in cold weather is with warmth. Try to warm up in the morning, keep your heater running and try to wear warm clothes.

When it is warm: Believe it or not, humidity in the summer can also cause pain, headaches and swelling for people, which is also due to barometric pressure. When it is warm, keep your body cool, use your air conditioning and don’t overexert yourself outside.

Don’t be afraid of exercise: One of the best things you can do to keep pain at bay is to stay active. Keep moving during your day. Even though it seems counter-intuitive, and it may hurt to be active when you’re feeling stiff or you’re in pain, physical activity helps your joint pain overall.

Check out these additional tips for fighting weather-related aches and pain:

  • Get up from your desk and take a short walk. Aim for at least 10 minutes of activity.
  • Do light stretching, jumping jacks or jog in place for a few minutes.
  • Find the right workout. There are plenty of low-impact exercises that you can do without breaking much of a sweat. There isn’t any one exercise that is better than the other. Just enjoy what you’re doing.
  • Some exercises you could try could include yoga, Pilates, light cardio, and low-impact exercise such as walking, cycling or swimming. Low impact exercise is anything that is easy on the joints, gentle and fluid in motion.
  • Drink water daily. Not only is water consumption essential for organ function, your muscles and bones are also composed of a high percentage of water. Therefore, one of the easiest things you can do for joint health is to drink plenty of water every day. Typically, 64 ounces of water is ideal, but this will vary based on your hydration requirements. That translates to about eight 8-ounce glasses of water. And remember, other beverages, like coffee and tea, include water, and so do most fruits. If you do not like to drink plain water, try low-calorie flavored water.

These tips should help keep your minor aches and pain at bay during the sudden weather changes that are typical in Louisiana’s climate. Visit a physician to learn more about your joint health and to find the perfect exercise routine for you.

Dr. Paul Phillips IV is an orthopedic surgeon with fellowship training in sports medicine. He specializes in surgical and nonsurgical treatment of athletic injuries involving the shoulder, elbow, hip and knee joint. Dr. Phillips received advanced training and has expertise in complex shoulder and knee arthroscopy, hip arthroscopy, joint preservation, cartilage restoration, meniscus surgery, and treatment of athletes of all ages. After residency, Dr. Phillips completed a Sports Medicine Fellowship at Houston Methodist Hospital in the renowned Texas Medical Center where he served as Assistant Team Physician for the Houston Texans, Houston Astros, Houston Rockets, Rice University Owls, NASA Astronaut Corps, and Head Team Physician for Barbers Hill High School Athletics. To schedule an appointment with him at Ochsner Health Center – Kenner call 504-412-1705 or visit ochsner.org.