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Does Cold Weather Affect Osteoarthritis & What Triggers An Osteoarthritis Flare-Up?

Osteoarthritis mainly takes place from injury, aging joints and obesity. Common symptoms of the problem are stiffness and joint pain. Treatment options depend on your affected joints. These are wrist, hand, neck, knee, back, and hip, while involving exercise and medication both. If you are an overweight person, you may overcome your symptoms from regular weight loss.(1)

Does Cold Weather Affect Osteoarthritis?

The damp and cold weather affects people suffering from osteoarthritis, as climate may cause an increase in joint pain while changes take place in daily exercise schedules. Most of the patients suffering from osteoarthritis predict rainfall because of high-level pain in joints. According to statistics, approximately 68% of surveyed people have experienced mild to severe pain because of changes in weather. Especially, many OA patients reported feeling the change in their pain before the occurrence of cold weather.

On the other side, a few of the experts have highlighted that a change in atmospheric or barometric pressure is the prime reason related to increases in pain among osteoarthritis patients instead of rain, cold or snow. Here, barometric pressure refers to the force exerted on any surface at any specific point by the atmospheric weight. Barometric pressure reduces gradually with the development of a storm system.(4)

What Triggers An Osteoarthritis Flare-Up?

If you suffer from osteoarthritis, you may experience a flare, where flare implies the period of increased disease-related activity or worsening of symptoms. During this phase, your regular medications fail to give relief from your symptoms or help to control your disease. Most of the patients may add flares, which affect their other aspects of life.(5)

Trauma or injury to your affected joint may cause a flare-up of osteoarthritis. Accordingly, cartilage gives shock absorption at the time of physical movements. Hence, if your cartilage breaks down, it makes your joints vulnerable to suffer from flare-ups, as your bones rub together. Secondly, you may suffer from osteoarthritis flare-ups because of bone spurs or osteophytes. Bone spurs are small bones’ pieces, which grow on various breakdown joints.

In some cases, both cartilage and bone pieces lose and cause a relatively higher level of pain. Other than this, you may experience osteoarthritis-related flare-ups because of a few of the additional factors. These include injuries related to physical exercise, stress, cold weather, repetitive movements, weight gain, infections and drop in atmospheric or barometric pressure.(6)

Osteoarthritis may develop gradually in people with age. Major changes in osteoarthritis take place slowly in several years, but you will find a few exceptions. Injury and inflammation to joints cause deterioration of ligaments and tendons, bony changes and cartilage breakdown, all of which cause swelling, pain and deformity of joints.

Approximately 80% of old adults aging from 55 years to elderly ones have evidence related to osteoarthritis on X-rays. However, only 60% of the total patients experience only symptoms. Other than this, old women have increased incidences related to knee osteoarthritis as compared to men.(2)

Types of Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis may take place in two different types, which include the following-

Primary OA: Primary type of osteoarthritis mainly affects one’s thumbs, fingers, hips, spine, knees, hips, and big toes.

Secondary OA: Secondary type of osteoarthritis takes place with an abnormality in your existing joints, such as trauma or injury. These are sports-related or repetitive inflammatory arthritis, like gout or psoriatic, rheumatoid, genetic joint disorders, infectious arthritis, metabolic joint disorders, and congenital joint disorders.(3)


To conclude, we should say that cold and damp weather might increase the pain and other related symptoms associated with the condition of osteoarthritis in large numbers of OA patients. Along with this, many people suffering from osteoarthritis experience large numbers of flare-ups to make the condition unbearable and uncomfortable.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 4, 2020

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