Female Runner Holding Sore Knee

Why is your arthritis pain worse in warm weather, and what can you do about it? YKC’s Dave Duffy explains what we know.

If you live with arthritis, you may be familiar with that feeling of knowing what the weather will be like before you open the curtains because you can feel it in your joints. For most people, osteoarthritis is worse in bad weather. As the 2019 project Cloudy with A Chance of Pain revealed, ‘bad weather’ was defined as humid, windy, low-pressure days. About 75% of people say they feel more pain and stiffer joints in bad weather.

Good weather, however, doesn’t mean better news for every osteoarthritis sufferer. Although in the minority, a significant number of people say their conditions are worse in hot weather.


Why do joints hurt more in warm weather?

While we now know the proportions of people whose joints are affected by the heat and the cold, we still don’t really know why.

As Versus Arthritis notes, we do know there are several factors at play which combine to increase stiffness and pain. Barometric pressure makes the muscles, bones and tendons grow bigger and smaller. We don’t know how or why, but this may have an effect. Microcirculation (that is, the way the blood flows through the body’s smallest blood vessels) may be a factor. Lower vitamin D levels may be a factor for increased pain in winter (although not in summer). Fluid retention may be a greater issue in summer, and summer may also be the time when you are at your most active – which may prove beneficial for most but not for all, especially if you overdo it.

Osteoarthritis pain tends to oscillate naturally. Even without the impact of the weather (or, perhaps more correctly, barometric pressure) most osteoarthritis sufferers will find their pain increases and decreases for no apparent reason throughout the year.

> What is knee osteoarthritis?

Then there’s the simple but important fact that people tend to be happier in warmer weather – and mood can have a big impact on the way we experience pain.

Nobody has yet been able to pull these various strands together to reach a definitive answer on seasonal/weather-related difference in joint pain. It’s also important to note that just because something happens at the same time as your joint pain increases, it doesn’t mean the pain was caused by that event. It may be a coincidence.


Easing joint pain in summer

There are some simple measures that can help ease the pain of osteoarthritis in summer. Take over the counter anti-inflammatories if your joints feel painful or swollen. Do your best to keep cool: stay in the shade. Wear loose, cool, natural fabrics. Try an air conditioner.

Perhaps the most important way to manage the condition is to keep moving. Avoid high impact activities like running and jumping and replace with low impact activities such as gentle swimming or yoga. If you know the forecast means you’re in for a tough day joint-wise, try starting your day with some very gentle stretches, but always listen to your body.

As ever, if you’re worried about knee pain or swelling that won’t ease, contact us or phone us on 03453 052 579.

>  Discover more about Dave Duffy
>  Discover more about osteoarthritis, symptoms & treatments

Dave Duffy

Dave Duffy

Private appointments weekly at The Duchy Hospital Harrogate & Nuffield Hospital Leeds

Private Secretaries

Amanda Hardy
The Duchy Hospital Harrogate
07889 485 579

Lauren Long
Nuffield Leeds
07930 585 744


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