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Why the Rain Makes My Arthritis Symptoms Worse

"Why can't I focus? Why can't I stay still? Why am I so uncomfortable, as if on the verge of a flare?" Cue a crack of thunder. "Oh... that explains so much."

It's like all my symptoms have been cranked up...

my entire body seems to give various clues

Yes, sometimes my joints throb on an overcast morning. But there are times when it's more indirect; like all my symptoms have been cranked up just a little bit. I'll feel stiffer and more tender than usual, I can barely keep my eyes open, and I just can't concentrate on the task at hand.

It gets worse during the day until the skies open, and then it all makes sense.

Why is rain bad for arthritis?

In school, I learned that the pressure change in the atmosphere when it rains is to blame. Low-pressure systems seem to trigger pain and inflammation for people with arthritis because it makes tissue in the body expand and contract - which might trigger other inflammation-related symptoms, like fatigue.

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And I've heard that the lower oxygen content in the air is why some people say that rainy days make them feel sleepy, which might also contribute to the feelings of being extra tired. But it's not just rain that is associated with low pressure. So is humidity, which often precedes and follows a shower. Snowstorms are also associated with low-pressure systems.

The temperature may be a factor, too

While the atmosphere's pressure plays a big part in why you might not feel great when it rains, it might not be the only factor.

Personally, the temperature has a significant effect on my joint pain. While putting ice on a swollen joint can be a great way to reduce inflammation, cold weather has the opposite effect for me. The cold makes me tense, making my joints feel stiff and making my muscles ache.

It even makes me feel more tired. And getting caught in freezing rain is even worse, especially if it makes me shiver.

Getting through those low-pressure days

Short of moving to Arizona, which I've considered, I've had to learn to deal with the bad weather. When I know the weather is going to be bad, I try to pregame.

I adjust my med schedule as necessary, sometimes taking them as soon as I wake up. I also keep any tools I need close on hand, like my heating pad. On those days, I plan for a comfortable outfit, complete with compression socks and gloves. If I must venture out, I plan accordingly.

For cold, wet weather, I like to wear layers, which keep me warm and can be removed at my destination if they get too wet. I usually prefer wearing a raincoat to using an umbrella because I find them too painful to handle, especially if it's windy or frigid.

If I can help it, I stay shut in on rainy days. I don't open the door or the windows. I suspect it works because I'm keeping the pressure system in the house more balanced, so it changes more gradually.

Beyond joints

I've heard it said time and time again that we should call it psoriatic disease instead of psoriatic arthritis because the word 'arthritis' is too misleading.

When you think of arthritis, you think of joint pain - not fatigue, brain fog, and many other symptoms we deal with. So while sometimes I'm a little thrown off by these other symptoms popping up when bad weather and other arthritis triggers come around, I'm not surprised either; my whole body is being affected, not just one part.

And the sooner I pick up on the increase in all my symptoms, the sooner I can start trying to care for them.

Do certain types of weather affect your arthritis? What are your tips and tricks for dealing with rainy days?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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