Study finds cold weather can increase swelling, pain in joints

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- According to one orthopedic specialist, there may be a connection between cold rainy weather and your health.

On rainy, cold Southern California days, it's not just painful sitting in traffic - it can be painful in your joints.

"When it gets cold, that's the worst," Irvine resident Dede Quiroz said.

Seventy-two-year-old Quiroz said the cold and drop in barometric pressure brought out the worst in her achy joints, especially her knees and back.

Researchers suspected certain atmospheric conditions increase swelling in the joint capsule. A study out of Tufts University found for every 10 point drop in temperature, there's an incremental increase in arthritis pain.

"It may be related to this barometric pressure change and the fact that the patients are just feeling more of their inflammatory changes around the joint," said Dr. Steven Barnette, with the Hoag Orthopedic Institute.

He said he heard more complaints from people with rheumatoid arthritis because they've got more joint sensitivity.

But anyone with a knee or elbow injury - or someone who has had joint replacement surgery may have felt changes in their joints because of the weather.

Barnette explained that it's due to increased blood flow combined with synovial fluid.

"These knees are already inflamed to begin with so any kind of buildup of fluid increases pressure within the joint, which will cause pain related to the underlying inflammatory condition," Barnette said.

He recommended people apply topical creams such as BenGay to increase warmth to the joint. You can also wear protective gear.

He also suggested moving to warmer climates during the winter, but fortunately for our joints, Southern California has the type of weather we can brag about - most of the year.
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