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Arthritis Pain and Hidden Connections to Your Home State and the Weather

Evidence-based Reviewed Article

An image of a man holding his knee in painAccording to reported statistics, it’s estimated that roughly 59 million Americans (23.7%) are living with arthritis. Additionally, up to 15 million of these sufferers are facing severe joint pain connected to the condition. Arthritis, especially when patients have severe arthritis pain, can significantly impact well-being, causing reduced range of motion, disability, and even increased risk for early mortality. Besides being traditionally connected to the weather, studies show lifestyle factors can also put you at a higher risk of joint pain. That's why you need to understand the connection and what you can do about it.

What Is Arthritis?

The term "arthritis" is derived from the Greek term “disease of the joints.” It refers to an acute or chronic joint inflammation that often co-exists with pain and structural damage. Osteoarthritis or degenerative arthritis, which is non-inflammatory arthritis, is the most common type of arthritis. Other types of arthritis include:

  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Gout
  • Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Reactive arthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Septic arthritis
  • Thumb arthritis

Symptoms of Arthritis

The most prevalent symptoms and signs of arthritis are connected to the joints. Looking at arthritis in general, signs and symptoms may include:

  • Joint pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling/inflammation
  • Stiffness
  • Reduced range of motion

Causes of Arthritis

Depending on the type of arthritis you have, the cause of arthritis may vary. However, do note that arthritis can also happen without a known cause or trigger.

Osteoarthritis and Wear-and-Tear

This is one of the most common causes of arthritis. It occurs naturally with age from many years of using your joints. This can eventually wear down their cartilage cushioning. Consequently, wear-and-tear damage to a joint's cartilage can cause enough damage that it results in bone grinding directly on bone. This friction causes arthritis pain and restricts your movement.

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Autoimmunity

This type of arthritis is also common and occurs when the body's immune system attacks the tissue lining of the joint capsule, which is the tough membrane that surrounds all the joint components. This lining (synovial membrane) goes through inflammation and swelling.

Autoimmune reactions in your joints can be caused by infections from intestinal microbial pathogens. Your gut plays a significant role in regulating your body's immune response, and disruption of the gut microbiome can lead to the development of autoimmune disorders, inflammation, and pain. Consequently, this affects the joints. According to an article published in Frontiers in Immunology, the gut microbiome plays a vital role in the immune dysfunction characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis. Over time, as the condition progresses, it can destroy both cartilage and bone within the joint.

Gout and Hyperuricemia

This occurs when you have an abnormally high amount of uric acid in your blood. Your body can either make too much uric acid or cannot excrete enough of the substance. This can sometimes result in the development of gout, which can impact any joint in your body, often occurring suddenly, often at nighttime.

Viruses That Cause Arthritis

Some viral infections, including mumps, HIV, rubella, and COVID-19, can cause viral arthritis. This involves arthritis pain, inflammation, and swelling in one or more of your joints due to because of a viral infection that you have. Viral arthritis tends to resolve when the viral infection clears.

Arthritis Pain and Where You Live

An image of a sitting woman holding her neckThe geography of chronic pain is a notable aspect of arthritis in America. Where you live is a factor that can impact your condition.

Your location can impact the severity of your joint pain and, thus, the severity of your arthritis. According to one study, the prevalence of joint pain was found to be at the lowest rate in Minnesota at 6.9%, followed by Hawaii at 7.5%, and then, Utah at 7.7%. Additionally, joint pain prevalence was established to be the highest in West Virginia at 23.1%, followed by Alabama at 21.6%, and Arkansas at 21.4%.

The top ten high-prevalence pain states include:

  • West Virginia
  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Oklahoma
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan

The top ten low-prevalence pain states include:

  • North Dakota
  • Washington
  • South Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • Iowa
  • Alaska
  • Colorado
  • Utah
  • Hawaii
  • Minnesota

According to the article related to the study published in the journal PAIN, researchers found that those living in high-prevalence pain states are over three times more likely to have arthritis pain than people living in low-prevalence pain states. The study links state-level factors to educational disparities in all states, so arthritis prevalence doesn't appear to be related to climate itself. Findings reveal that the percentage-point difference in pain prevalence between the least educated and the most educated is much larger in some states. Joint pain prevalence is smaller for college graduates than for those who didn't complete high school.

Furthermore, research findings indicate that states with higher levels of SNAP benefits and higher social cohesion have a lower prevalence of joint pain. This suggests that material resources like food that can provide people with a healthier diet and collective social functioning can impact inflammation and immune system changes that help to shape pain risk. In essence, findings reveal that social policies could prevent and reduce arthritis pain. They also suggest that, ultimately, lifestyle factors like diet, stress, work environment, and education play a larger role in preventing arthritis pain than the weather.

Stress and Joint Pain

Chronic stress is another potential cause of arthritis pain and inflammation. Chronic stress often leads to adrenal fatigue. Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) is the non-Addison's form of adrenal dysfunction, where the body's stress response cannot keep up with life's chronic stressors. Inflammation is your body’s response to stress. Inflammation can worsen arthritis symptoms. On the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis can also act as a stressor and trigger symptoms of adrenal fatigue.

The Inflammation Circuit of the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response system, which is comprised of the immune system, gastrointestinal tract, and microbiome, helps to regulate inflammation in your body. AFS sufferers experience numerous non-specific symptoms, including joint pain, due to overly high and then low levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol imbalance can cause several negative effects, including inflammation and hormone imbalances that worsen joint pain.

Connecting Weather and Arthritis Pain

An image of a woman holding her aching handSome people with arthritis may experience pain changes that coincide with weather changes. There is still some mystery as to why this happens. However, some anecdotal evidence points to a link between the two. It appears that particular weather conditions can either worsen arthritic pain or make it better.

There are several ways that arthritis and the weather may be linked. However, keep in mind that weather tends to affect people differently. It could affect you in one way or not have an impact at all.

Possible Improvement in Arthritis Pain in the Summertime

Summertime warmth may improve arthritis pain, but the heat also leads to increased humidity. Humidity, which is moisture in the air, can be both good and bad for arthritis depending on the time of year. Humidity may be fine for arthritis pain in summer on warm days. However, humidity on cold winter days can cause arthritis pain to worsen. In most cases, dry days that lack humidity seem to be significantly better for arthritis pain.

Barometric Pressure Increase on Rainy/Snowy Days

Barometric pressure, which is the weight of air, increases when the weather is good, for example, sunny or warm. However, it decreases when the weather is bad, for example, stormy or heavy wind. During periods of rain and snow, the temperature falls and barometric pressure reduces. This can impact your joints and cause joint fluids to thicken. When this happens, it makes the joints stiffer. Stiff joints increase your sensitivity to pain during movement, which can make your arthritis pain appear worse.

Less Physical Activity in Winter Can Increase Arthritis Pain

Joint-friendly physical activities like biking, walking, dancing, and water aerobics can ease arthritis pain. However, weather plays a critical role in the amount of physical activity that some people are able to do. When the weather is nice and warm, it’s a good day to do outdoor exercise activities, such as walking and bike riding. On the flip side, when it’s cold and or rainy, the urge to exercise might be low. In fact, you may not want to go outside at all or do any form of exercise. Your bed might be more inviting. However, this isn’t good for your arthritis, especially when the weather is bad for several days or more, since it can also worsen your arthritis pain.

The Mood-Pain Connection

Research suggests that there is a connection between arthritis pain and emotions. The happier you are, the greater the likelihood you’ll experience less pain. The opposite is also true. For people who have clinical depression, for example, their emotions and mood are more likely to impact their level of joint pain. The weather can also affect your mood. For instance, on rainy days, many people experience a gloomy sad feeling, while on sunny days, some feel more upbeat and happier. So, bad weather can result in you having a bad mood, and this can increase your joint pain.

Weather-Arthritis and the Flu Connection

The weather, arthritis, and the flu season also appear to be connected. The flu season typically runs from early fall through late winter or early spring, and in the US, it peaks between December and February. The connection between the flu and arthritis is evident in several ways. Arthritis patients have an increased risk of developing the flu. This is so because arthritis and particular medications, like prescribed corticosteroids, can reduce the immune system's ability to fight germs. Furthermore, having the condition can increase your risk of developing serious flu-related complications, like pneumonia. Additionally, primary flu symptoms include pain and body aches, which can worsen arthritis pain.

With this in mind, if you have arthritis, do get the flu shot before peak flu season. Those with arthritis should get the shot rather than the nasal spray because it only contains an inactive flu virus. As such, it cannot give you the flu.

Tackling Arthritis Pain

There is no cure for arthritis, but there are several ways that you can get relief. These include:

  • An image of a various foods for arthritisJoint Formula by Dr. Lam®. This is a comprehensive joint support supplement containing key ingredients like glucosamine and boswellia, along with essential vitamins and minerals to help in cartilage rebuilding. Glucosamine is known for its cartilage-supporting properties. Boswellia reduces inflammation by preventing the formation of leukotrienes (molecules identified as a cause of inflammation) in the body. These ingredients may help to foster joint comfort and function. As such, this supplement nurtures joint health, supports joint flexibility, and promotes overall mobility.
  • Avoid inflammatory foods because they can aggravate arthritis symptoms.
  • Eat a plant-based diet that is packed with natural anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce arthritis pain.
  • Make yoga or stretching part of your daily routine to help keep joints flexible.
  • Reduce stress in your life.
  • Get enough rest to relax your joints.
  • Maintain your ideal weight to prevent excess stress on your joints.

Dealing with Arthritis Pain: The Takeaway

Arthritis is a chronic condition that can significantly impact your health and well-being. Its cause varies depending on the type, and factors such as your lifestyle and the weather can affect your pain level.

Certain supplements with ingredients that support joint health can help improve your joint pain and inflammation, along with stretching, lowering stress, and adopting an anti-inflammatory diet.

Ready to take control of your arthritis pain and reclaim your quality of life? Our team specializes in providing personalized advice tailored to your unique needs. Whether you're seeking guidance on supplements, lifestyle adjustments, or managing flare-ups, we're here to support you every step of the way. Don't let arthritis hold you back any longer – give us a call today at +1 (626) 571-1234 and let's work together towards a happier, healthier you.

Joint Formula may help to foster joint comfort and function, supporting joint flexibility, and promoting overall mobility.

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Chand, S. P., Arif, H. "Depression." StatPearls [Internet], StatPearls Publishing, 17 July 2023,

Huang, Rui, et al. "Educational Disparities in Joint Pain Within and Across US States: Do Macro Sociopolitical Contexts Matter?" Pain, vol. 164, no. 10, 2023, pp. 2358-2369, doi:10.1097/j.pain.0000000000002945.

Senthelal, S., Li, J., Ardeshirzadeh, S., et al. "Arthritis." StatPearls [Internet], StatPearls Publishing, 20 June 2023,

Zhao, Ting, et al. "Gut Microbiota and Rheumatoid Arthritis: From Pathogenesis to Novel Therapeutic Opportunities." Frontiers in Immunology, vol. 13, 2022, Accessed 14 Dec. 2023.

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

The types of arthritis pain includes osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and viral arthritis. The weather affect arthritis pain, making it better or worse. During the cold time, joint pain tends to gets worse for many, while the pain improves during warmer weather. But why this happens isn't so clear.

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