Although it is not officially summer, the past few weeks sure feels like it. Especially for those with joint discomfort and pain. As the body ages, individuals may notice their joints have some mobility/flexibility issues in the summer heat. Again, the heat and humidity are the culprits. The hotter it is, the more the body is susceptible to inflammation and swelling. The more prone an individual’s body is to swelling, the more pain can present. Barometric pressure can also have some form of impact on joint health. The pressure changes can cause the joints to become more sensitive. When the pressure changes, individuals often speak of their joints feeling tighter combined with stiffness, leading to a cycle of swelling and pain.
Whether it’s the hip, knee, elbow, or hand, all of the body’s joints have fluid in them. It is a gel-like substance known as synovial fluid. This is what lubricates the joints and keeps them functioning smoothly. However, the temperature and humidity levels can change the thickness of the fluid in the joints. This means that the synovial fluid can become inflamed with the weather changes. This is a symptom when the joints begin to feel like they cannot move and/or are becoming stiff. Joint inflammation can become more common and chronic as the body gets older.
Weather and the joints
The summer heat and humidity can affect the joint because:
- The tendons, ligaments, and muscles expand in this type of weather
- The heat can restrict individuals from moving around. Non-use stiffens the joints
- Joints that have worn down cartilage could have exposed nerves that are reacting to the temperature changes
- Humidity causes the body to lose water by sweating. This can reduce the fluid around the joints leading to stiffness, immobility, and pain.
However, not everyone has joint problems in the summer heat. Many have joint issues when it’s cold, damp, or raining. Other’s are at their best in cool, dry weather. It depends on an individual’s body and how their joints react when the temperature changes.
Maintaining joint health for the summer heat.
When joint discomfort or pain presents in the summer, there are a few easy ways to gain relief.
Properly Hydrate the Body
Water and sports drinks maintain the fluid levels in the body, specifically, it keeps the joints moving. One way to hydrate the body can be achieved by eating healthy fruits and vegetables. Water-rich fruits and vegetables include:
Over-The-Counter pain ointments and creams
Arthritis and anti-inflammatory creams/ointments can ease joint pain by allowing more blood circulation in the affected areas.
Dressing for the heat
Wear loose, natural fiber, breathable clothing that allows the body to move freely while maintaining a cool temperature.
Relax in the air conditioning
Get into the air conditioning. The cool air can help reduce joint inflammation.
Get in the Water
Swimming or just wading through doing some light exercise in the water cools the body’s core. In addition, the buoyancy of the water relieves pressure on the joints.
Body Composition Testing
The body is made up of as much as 2/3’s water. Even though much of the body is made up of water, body composition changes based on functional needs. Essential functions of water include:
- Water is the building block to almost every cell in the body
- It regulates the body’s temperature through sweating and respiration
- Carbohydrates and proteins for energy are transported via the water in the blood
- Water assists in the removal of metabolic waste through urination
- It is part of the shock-absorbing system that protects the brain and spinal cord
- Water is part of the saliva and fluid that lubricates the joints
The amount of water in the body depends on various factors. This includes:
- Physical activity
- It is referred to as Total Body Water or TBW.
TBW is constantly changing with gains and losses of fluid in healthy adults. The body can detect irregularities and compensate for losses and/or gains to ensure that the systems are balanced.
Morton, Darren, and Robin Callister. “Exercise-related transient abdominal pain (ETAP).” Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.) vol. 45,1 (2015): 23-35. doi:10.1007/s40279-014-0245-z
Peeler, Jason et al. “Managing Knee Osteoarthritis: The Effects of Body Weight Supported Physical Activity on Joint Pain, Function, and Thigh Muscle Strength.” Clinical journal of sports medicine: official journal of the Canadian Academy of Sports Medicine vol. 25,6 (2015): 518-23. doi:10.1097/JSM.0000000000000173
Quick, D C. “Joint pain and weather. A critical review of the literature.” Minnesota medicine vol. 80,3 (1997): 25-9.
Timmermans, Erik J et al. “The Influence of Weather Conditions on Joint Pain in Older People with Osteoarthritis: Results from the European Project on OSteoArthritis.” The Journal of rheumatology vol. 42,10 (2015): 1885-92. doi:10.3899/jrheum.141594
Post Disclaimer *
The information herein on "Summer Heat Can Affect Joints and Movement" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional.
Our information scope is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, sensitive health issues, functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.
Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and support, directly or indirectly, our clinical scope of practice.*
Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.
We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.
We are here to help you and your family.