Tag Archives: knee arthritis

True or False: Changes in the Weather Can Make Your Joints Stiff or Achy

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For many people, the flare-up of an arthritic knee or shoulder appears to signal a change in the weather—usually hinting that a storm is imminent.

The belief that achy joints accompany a weather change is so widespread, in fact, that it has just about been accepted as reality. Many doctors listen to patients complain that they experience stiff or aching joints before, during, or after changes in temperature, barometric pressure, or humidity.

Yet, in spite of the widespread belief in a connection between aches and pains and inclement weather, medical researchers have come up with little evidence to support it.

Evidence for the Health Claim
Changes in the weather such as barometric pressure, humidity, and temperature could theoretically affect the synovial fluid that lines and lubricates the joints if, for example, they had a chemical effect on the fluid which somehow increased inflammation (which causes pain). However, there is no conclusive evidence that supports this theory.

Since at least the mid-1800s, a number of medical, and so-called bio-meteorologic research studies have been carried out in an effort to establish a connection between health and changing weather conditions.

The results of these studies have been varied. Based primarily on a compilation of patient anecdotes (reports of arthritis sufferers, for instance), increased barometric pressure (in fair weather conditions) has been associated with increased joint pain. Conversely, others studies have shown a relationship between increased joint pain and decreased barometric pressure (in stormier weather). Still other studies have suggested that changing weather conditions can cause immediate pain in some patients and delayed pain in others.

weather changes

Evidence Against the Health Claim

It is important to note that because most studies on this subject have been based on anecdotal reports rather than carefully designed observational studies, their conclusions don’t constitute reliable scientific evidence. Furthermore, many doctors claim that the wide variety of arthritic conditions and sheer complexity of atmospheric variability makes coming up with meaningful connections between joint pain and weather conditions next to impossible.

There is also a psychological aspect to this belief. What are the chances that the connection between health and the weather is simply coincidental? Is it possible that arthritis sufferers link their stiff and achy joints to changes in the weather as a way of explaining an otherwise mysterious exacerbation of their condition? Some doctors suggest that patients who observe weather conditions when they experience pain may pay little or no attention to the weather when they don’t have any pain.

Furthermore, there is no definitive evidence that moving to a warmer or drier climate provides a cure for aching joints. Some doctors report that many patients claim that the pain disappears for a while, only to return a few months later.

by Rhianon Davies

REFERENCES:
Aches and Pains Index. UK Weather Channel Interactive Web site. Available at http://uk.weather.com/activities/health/achesandpains/achesandpainsindex.html. Accessed July 25, 2006.

Cold Weather Can Cause More Aches and Pains for Arthritis Sufferers. Marshall University Orthopaedics Web site. Available at http://musom.marshall.edu/medctr/orthopaedics/cold weather.asp. Accessed July 25, 2006

Shmerling RH. Whether Weather Matters For Arthritis. Available at http://www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtIH/8799/9273/35323/341624.html?d=dmtHMSContent. Accessed July 25, 2006.

Weather and Joint Pain. Any Connection? Mayo Clinic Web site. Available at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/joint-pain/AN00102. Accessed July 25, 2006.

Weather and Our Physical Health. BBC News Web site. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/weatherwise/living/effects/. Accessed July 25, 2006.

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

physical therapy knee pain

How Physical Therapy Helps Knee Rehabilitation

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PT&Me Knee Rehabilitation

Physical therapists can provide more than pre/post surgical knee rehabilitation for patients experiencing knee pain.

What Causes Knee Pain?
The knee is a relatively simple joint required to do a complicated job…to provide flexible mobility while bearing considerable weight. While walking down the street, our knees bear three to five times our body weight. When the knee is overstressed in sports or in everyday activities, these structures can break down — and a knee injury occurs.

Common Knee Problems Seen by Our Physical Therapists:

  • Strain / Sprain
  • Arthritis Pain
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Ligament Sprains
  • ACL Tears
  • Tendinitis (ie: Patellar, Pes Anserinus)
  • Chondromalacia Patella
  • Patellofemoral Syndrome / Knee Pain
  • Pre / Post Operative Therapy

How Physical Therapy Provides Knee Rehabilitation
Rehabilitation acutely after knee surgery or a knee injury primarily centers around decreasing swelling in the knee joint. Even a small amount of fluid inhibits the quadriceps muscle on the front of knee by slowing the signal for movement traveling from the brain to the muscle. Manual techniques to decrease muscle spasm and improve length tension relationships of soft tissue are also incorporated. Gradually, exercises to increase strength, range of motion and functional mobility are introduced.

Treatments Offered Include:

  • Comprehensive evaluation with an emphasis on determining the source of the problem
  • Individualized and specific exercise programs
  • Manual therapy (hands-on treatment)
  • Modalities as needed
  • Work and sport specific simulations
  • Progressive home program to help restore independence and self-management

Knee Rehabilitation Goals:

  • Reduce Pain
  • Improve Mobility
  • Movement Awareness/Gait Training
  • Functional Strength
  • Patient Education

For more information on knee injuries visit our PT & Me Knee Injury Center page by clicking here.

The PT & Me Injury Center goes over diagnoses on how physical therapists treat specific injuries.

To find or search for a local participating PT & Me physical therapy clinic in your local area please click here.

PT News

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This Month in PT News. Featuring articles from PTandMe partnering clinics!

1. Exercise after Knee Replacement Surgery
Written by the Therapy Team at Cornerstone Physical Therapy – Gahanna, OH

If you’ve been undergoing treatment for knee arthritis and haven’t gotten any pain relief yet, your doctor may recommend a total knee replacement surgery. Read more

2. Low Back Pain and Sciatica Workshop
Written by the Therapy Team at Oregon Spine & Physical Therapy – Eugene, OR

If you are suffering with chronic back pain or sciatica and you’re looking for some help… why don’t you start by attending one of our Educational Workshops so you can make a better, more educated and more informed decision about your options to ease it. Read more

3. Inflammation and Your Diet
Written by Cheryl Schwieters, Physical Therapist Assistant at the Center for Physical Rehabilitation – Grand Rapids, MI

Throughout the day the body is constantly being bombarded with substances that can trigger inflammation. Read more