joint pain in the summer
Sports / Orthopedic

How to Ease Joint Pain in the Summer

Jul 15 2024

Remember when you were young and could move your joints with ease? Now that you’re older, you may be noticing that you get joint pain in the summer.

Knowing how to handle joint discomfort is important, especially in the warmer weather. Learn why the summer heat may affect your joints and what you can do to get relief.

Anatomy of a joint

Whether it’s your hip, knee or elbow, all your joints have fluid in them. It’s a gel-like substance called synovial fluid. This is almost like an oil that lubricates your joints and keeps them moving smoothly.

Temperature and humidity levels can change the level or thickness of fluid that fills your joints. Therefore, the synovial fluid in your joints can get inflamed due to weather. Your joints start feeling like they can’t move as well or they’re stiff. Inflammation of the joints becomes more common the older you get.

Why weather affects joints

Temperature changes affect how your joints feel and work. In the summer months, humidity can be a factor for a few reasons:

  • Tendons, ligaments and muscles expand in the heat and humidity.
  • Hot weather can keep you from moving around. This inactivity can cause pain and stiffness
  • Joints with worn cartilage may have exposed nerves that react to changes in the air pressure around you.
  • Humidity causes your body to lose water through sweat. This may reduce the fluid around your joints and cause pain.

Not every person has joint pain in the summer or other times of hot weather. Many people have joint issues when temperatures drop, or it’s damp and rainy. Other people feel at their best in cool, dry weather. It all depends on your own body and how your joints react to temperature changes.

Keeping joints comfortable

If you’re having joint pain in the summer, there are easy ways to feel better. All it takes is a few tweaks to your lifestyle, and your joints will thank you.

  • Hydrate: Water and sports drinks maintain fluid in your joints to keep them moving.
  • Apply OTC creams: Arthritis creams and anti-inflammatory medications can ease joint pain.
  • Get dressed: Wearing loose and natural fiber clothing allows your joints to move freely while keeping you cool.
  • Relax in cool air: Stay indoors in air conditioning. This limits your time in humid air, which can cause or worsen joint pain. Cooler air can reduce joint inflammation.
  • Swim: Swimming cools your body’s core, including your joints. It’s also a low-impact cardio exercise. Most importantly, the buoyancy of water relieves pressure on your joints.

When joint pain in the summer isn’t from the weather

Sometimes, it’s not just the weather causing your joint pain. In the summer, your joints may feel extra painful, but it might be highlighting other underlying issues. People with arthritis may experience worse symptoms when the weather is hot. However, barometric pressure, which is the pressure caused by the weight of the air around you, may also affect arthritis pain, although it can depend on whether you have osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

When to see your provider

If you have unbearable joint pain in the summer, talk with your primary care provider. They may want to do some tests. If your joints are painful, swollen, warm to the touch or making your daily activities difficult to do, make an appointment. Waiting to see a health care professional may cause more damage to your joints.

Learn more about the orthopedics and sports medicine we provide at Bon Secours.

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