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With the rainy and cold winter picking up here in San Francisco, my inflamed body is in desperate need of some sunshine. And what better way to get some sun and warm ocean breeze than taking a cruise to the Bahamas this weekend!

Weather can be a factor in affecting the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Many of us with RA feel that arthritis pain is influenced by the weather because we often experience more pain on cold, rainy days and less pain on warm, dry days. For instance, some studies show that people living in warmer, drier climates experience fewer episodes or flares of arthritis pain. To support that theory, the past week of rain and temperatures in the 40s definitely sparked my RA to flare up more than usual.

It is believed that RA and other forms of arthritis may even give us a magical power to “predict” a rain storm coming based on our inflammation or pain levels. My friend Molly and I always joke about how our joints and various knee surgeries give us pain when a rain storm is approaching. This theory was explained by Dr. Wilder from the Arthritis Research Institute of America as: “It could be that the sensitivity of the nerves is so highly tuned to barometric pressure that they can respond to even minor changes.”

But ultimately, doctors have concluded that climate does not necessarily affect the progression of the disease or affect joint damage. So it wouldn’t benefit a patient with RA to move to a dry, warm climate in the long run. However, they do say that some sunshine and mild weather can have positive affects on the symptoms of the disease, especially easing pain during a flare up. So I am packing my sunglasses — and lots of sunscreen of course — and getting ready for an unforgettable, relaxing and sunny weekend in the Bahamas.

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