Can My Knee Predict the Weather?

Summit physician assistant Abby Clark, PA-C, sheds some light on why some people’s joints seem to predict weather changes.

We get a lot of weather in Minnesota, with all four seasons represented and bone-chilling, snowy winters. Weather patterns tend to change often, with sun and rain dancing back and forth. But some arthritis sufferers don’t need a meteorologist to tell them when the weather’s about to change: their achy knees do it for them. Can joints really predict the weather?

Can my knee predict the weather?

“Anecdotally, patients tell me all the time that their joints, particularly their knees, are more symptomatic before weather changes or cold weather,” said Abby Clark, PA-C, one of Summit’s physician assistants.

Patients report more achiness, more swelling, and sometimes a throbbing sensation. It can happen before it rains, or before the weather gets colder. Some “weather-predicting” joints seem to respond to changes in barometric pressure, while others flare up in response to significant temperature changes.

“It makes sense that there would be some truth to it,” Clark said.

Getting relief from a weather-predicting knee

So, assuming that you can’t move to Florida or some other warm, sunny place, what can you do? How can you reduce the pain, stiffness, and swelling when your weather-predicting knee is flaring up? The good news is, you can use the same at-home remedies that you use for arthritis pain in any other situation. Some examples include:

  • Oral anti-inflammatory medicines – These over-the-counter remedies can help to reduce the inflammation that is causing arthritis symptoms.
  • Ice – Simple and effective, ice can reduce swelling and calm inflammation. Use a bag of ice for 20 minutes, directly on the affected joint.
  • Activity modifications – If there are certain activities that tend to bother your joints, it can help to switch to other, lower-impact activities. You can resume them when the symptoms return to baseline.
  • Bracing – Braces can relieve the pressure from the inflamed area of the joint. They work by reducing the load and friction that the joint undergoes with movement.
  • Compression – Using compression (the “C” in RICE) can help provide support and decrease swelling.

“Any regular measure that you would otherwise do to relieve your arthritis symptoms can help when your knee — or other joint — is flaring up because of weather changes,” Clark said.

If you’re finding that your knee symptoms continue to worsen, or you have more bad days than good, talk to your Summit provider. There are other treatments that can help.

When to seek treatment for your arthritis

Arthritis doesn’t have to spell the end of an active life. If you are experiencing worrisome symptoms or persistent pain, the renowned arthritis specialists at Summit Orthopedics can help. We work with you to confirm a diagnosis and develop an appropriate conservative treatment plan. If nonsurgical treatments fail to support your lifestyle goals, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons will consult with you and discuss appropriate surgical options. Summit is home to innovative joint replacement options. Our Vadnais Heights Surgery Center is one of a select few nationally to receive The Joint Commission’s Advanced Certification for Total Hip and Total Knee Replacement.

Start your journey to healthier joints. Find your arthritis expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MNPlymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.

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