What to Do About Joint Pain During the Hot Summer Weather

Published August 12, 2022

If you have arthritis or other orthopedic condition, you might expect to have some pain during damp and chilly winter days. But it’s not just the cold weather that can prompt a flare-up. Some people with arthritis may also find their pain is aggravated during the hot summer months. Indeed, flare-ups can be worse during hot and humid periods of the year than they are during the chillier months.

If you’re negatively affected by hot and humid summer weather, there are things you can do to help feel more comfortable, and all-around enjoy the summer months. In this article, we’ll examine why joints can hurt more in the summer, and we'll offer plenty of tips for keeping the pain at bay.

Senior woman staying hydrated during a workout

Does warm weather cause joint pain?

People with orthopedic conditions often feel there’s a connection between the severity of their joint pain and the weather. This is called self-perceived weather sensitivity. According to one study, some people make a connection between cold, damp weather and an increase in pain. But other people with joint pain find their condition is even worse during the hot summer months.

Some researchers report a link between temperature and joint pain due to changes in synovial fluid. Shifts in temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure are thought to be contributing factors in how joints interacts with surrounding tissue.

Can lifestyle factors and a person’s mood impact the severity of perceived pain?

People are more likely to be irritable when they’re too hot (or too cold), which can heighten their perception of their joint pain due to chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or osteoarthritis (OA).

What To Do

The precise reason why some people experience an increase in joint pain during the summer months may not be clear. However, If you’re trying to avoid joint pain during the hotter period of the year, be sure to follow our summer health tips.

  1. Stay Cool
    There are plenty of ways to stay cool during the summer months, but the most effective method is to simply stay indoors during the hottest period of the day. Plan outdoor activities for early morning or evening when the temperature is lower.

  2. Wear Loose Clothing
    Of course, you don’t want to spend the entire summer inside your house. You can reduce overheating by wearing loose-fitting clothing made of natural fibers. Loose clothing will help keep you cool and give your joints plenty of space to move and flex.

  3. Sleep Well
    The connection between poor sleeping habits and pain is well established, and it heavily suggests that a poor night’s sleep can make chronic pain worse. People can have a difficult time falling asleep throughout the year, but insomnia and fatigue are especially prevalent during the summer months when warm weather and increased daylight hours can make it difficult to get enough hours of sleep. You can improve the quality of your sleep by making your bedroom “summer proof,” which essentially means blocking out light and decreasing the temperature. Light sleeping clothes, blackout curtains, and a good AC unit should do the trick. According to Sleepfoundation.org, “65 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 degrees Celsius) is the best temperature for sleep.” Turning your thermostat down low will certainly drive up your energy bill, so try to find a temperature that best works for you.

  4. Drink Plenty of Water
    Fluids help to keep your joints working correctly. During the summer months, the higher temperature and humidity cause us to perspire more and lose more water. The decrease in our body’s water volume can cause inflammation. The easy way to get around dehydration-induced joint pain is to simply increase your water intake. Water is the recommended option, but if you can’t stomach drinking water all day, then try coconut water, cucumber water, or low-sugar sports drinks with electrolytes.

  5. Stay Active
    Your joints will stiffen if your body isn’t moving as much as it should. While the idea of moving can be a little less appealing when it’s so warm, it’s important to stay active. Even a 15-minute morning yoga session can be enough to keep your body loose. In general, it’s best to keep to the same level of exercise as you do during the winter months; just be sure to stay in the shade, hydrate yourself more, and take plenty of breaks. Working out indoors at a gym or even walking around the grocery store are good ways to stay active without battling the summer heat. Swimming is also a great way to exercise during the summer months.

When To Seek Professional Help

Some people only experience a mild increase in their joint pain during the summer months. If your pain significantly increases or becomes unbearable, then be sure to make an appointment with your doctor. As with most things healthcare-related, it’s best to tackle the issue as soon as possible, as delaying treatment could make the condition worse. 

Final Thoughts

The warm summer months should be an enjoyable time of the year for outdoor activities, but if you’re battling joint pain, you should take extra precautions to stay cool, wear loose clothing, get plenty of sleep, stay hydrated, and stay active. If you need additional help managing your joint pain, be sure to get in touch with The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics.