When Juvenile Arthritis Predicts the Weather

When Juvenile Arthritis Predicts the Weather
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A few weeks ago, I couldn’t get comfortable. I sat on the couch, fidgeting and shifting, but couldn’t find any relief.

Climbing into bed and propping my knees with pillows didn’t do the trick either. It was miserable trying to fall asleep, and I didn’t understand why my hips were aching so badly. At least, I didn’t know until I woke up in the morning to a thunderstorm. I should’ve realized.

Your child with juvenile arthritis and their grandparents may have something in common: They might be able to tell that rain is coming because their knee is acting up. Some people think it’s a myth that people with arthritis can predict the weather. But there could be a scientific explanation!

Possible science behind the pain

Pain might be attributed to changes in barometric pressure, the measurement of the weight of the air. When it rains, the barometric pressure drops, which likely means there’s less pressure compressing our joints. That would allow them to swell and become irritated. Damp coldness and humidity can make them feel even worse.

Any sudden shift in the weather can cause joints to flare up. For example, cold temperatures cause stiffness, which brings on more pain.

How to help

In a not-so-distant past, doctors used to advise people with rheumatic diseases to move to hot, dry climates. The consistent temperatures and lack of precipitation can help to keep your condition stable. While I would love to go to Arizona one day to visit the Grand Canyon, I don’t intend to uproot my life and move there. At least, not yet.

In the meantime, I like to use this handy weather tool created by the Arthritis Foundation that can help predict when you might experience weather-related pain. It helps me plan for painful days by staying on top of my medications, wearing compression garments, and arranging transportation instead of walking to my train.

If your child is affected by a particular type of weather, knowing ahead of time that they might need a ride to school or extra medication is extremely helpful.

It also pays to have gear on hand. If it will be a rainy day, consider having a change of clothes for your child. Sitting through class in damp jeans or socks will feel miserable, and having something dry and warm to change into can help a lot. Having a warm bath or hot water bottle ready for them when they come home also can be heavenly. 

Education and self-care go a long way

Sometimes I felt down on myself because of the way the weather, especially rain, affected me. It felt so dramatic because it was so much more than a trick knee acting up. It was pain that would wear me out badly, to the point that on some days, I needed to nap and rest all day. I felt like such an old lady, and it was embarrassing to struggle so much at such a young age.

But once I learned that the rain is a legitimate arthritis trigger, it became easier to cope. I became more forgiving of my condition. My body needed the naps after experiencing extra inflammation all day, and now I accept that.

I’ve made it more of a self-care routine now: After a long, cold, wet day, I take a warm shower, put on fuzzy pajamas, and curl up for an hour or so under a warm blanket. It’s pure bliss.

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Note: Juvenile Arthritis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Juvenile Arthritis News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to juvenile arthritis.

Elizabeth Medeiros is a young adult who has dealt with juvenile arthritis since she was a small child. However, her pain hasn’t stopped her from working on a product design degree in Boston. Her passion is to create products that make life easier for the chronically ill, such as shoes and walking canes. When she’s not in class, Elizabeth enjoys writing about how she’s coped with arthritis at such a young age. You can find more of her writings at ArthritisGirl.Blogspot.com and on Instagram @GirlWithArthritis.
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Elizabeth Medeiros is a young adult who has dealt with juvenile arthritis since she was a small child. However, her pain hasn’t stopped her from working on a product design degree in Boston. Her passion is to create products that make life easier for the chronically ill, such as shoes and walking canes. When she’s not in class, Elizabeth enjoys writing about how she’s coped with arthritis at such a young age. You can find more of her writings at ArthritisGirl.Blogspot.com and on Instagram @GirlWithArthritis.

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