The Effects of Altitude on Chronic Arthritis

Updated on February 6, 2017
PageBeard profile image

I have suffered from severe psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis for many years, and am constantly in search of new treatment options.


Chronic Arthritis

Those of us who live with chronic arthritis understand the pain and difficulty it can create in our lives. Over the years I have searched for hidden answers in some hope of finding a miracle cure to ease the aches in my body. Some modern medications are expensive even with insurance, and in some countries access to those medications is nil. I have never found a complete answer.

After retiring I moved to Mexico—to one of the most sunny and peaceful environments I could find. It enabled me to reduce my medications by half. The sun and the heat have provided comfort that finally made me believe that location could very well be the start to solving my problems.


Climate and Joint Pain

Long ago I started looking into how the climate can affect joint pain. Some people may or may not be as sensitive to incoming weather, but there is some curiosity there. I myself feel nothing in a rain storm, but in a more permanent environment have had vast improvements. So why is it people are sensitive to short term weather effects? This led me to investigate barometric pressure. Low pressure gradients mix with high pressure gradients and things change quickly allowing some to feel the effects before the first drop of rain falls. This further pushed me to consider other areas of the globe with high or low barometric pressure.


So How About Altitude?

The natural progression for me to explore next seemed to be at locations in high altitude. I could find almost nothing. If you search yourself you will find the occasional forum with a few responses here or there but there is only one scientific article I could find and it is more than 30 years old. The best part of the article is that it is on our favor.

The study, Effects of high altitude stay on the incidence of common diseases in man, was published in June of 1977 and is the only such study I can find that brushes up on the effects of altitude on arthritis. Surprisingly I could find nothing else! The most amazing part of the study is that in higher altitudes many diseases, to include rheumatoid arthritis, showed that cases were "significantly lower." So there is indeed a chance that living in a higher altitude may help your arthritis.


Searching for alternative methods to treat chronic arthritis will bring you a lot of results to sort through. It is a shame that there are so few studies on obvious candidates that are likely to improve living with arthritis. Living at high altitudes may give you the peace you have been looking for. So the next time you consider moving, consider looking up.

Please comment below and share your story of living with arthritis at high altitudes. Also share any research you have found. It may help someone!

Has Moving to a Higher Altitude Improved Your Chronic Arthritis?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • profile image


        7 months ago

        I just visited my son in the mountains of North Carolina

        For the last 9 months, I live in Florida, I have been in constant pain

        and have done physical therapy. Every day is a new pain or issue. I

        Don't want to live on aleve everyday. I had a steroid injection in one knee.

        I drove for 10 hours to get up to the mountains. I was expecting to be crippled

        on arrival, but no. I went up and down 20 stairs several times daily with little difficulty. My hands were able to close tight, first time in long time. Stayed for 3 days and felt great even after long drive back. Lasted about 1 1/2 days. Now the inflammation is back and I am walking with a limp. I think the elevation has something to do with this, my knees were not inflamed and I did not need pain meds. I am going to make another visit and check it out. If I feel better I may have to consider moving

      • profile image


        10 months ago

        I agree with Gwen. I have been in CO (Western Slope) since last November and never has my RA been so bad. I follow an autoimmune diet and have even fasted several days with no relief from this inflammation. It's beautiful here but I can't wsit to get back to the midwest!

      • profile image

        Rene S. 

        11 months ago

        I have been living for 20 years with chronic pain from severe injuries to my cervical spine. I've tried acupuncture, electrical stimulation, biofeedback, several different types of physical therapy, chiropractor, spinal surgery with fusion of three neck joints, therapeutic massage, trigger point injections, steroid packs and steroid injections into the facet joints, Nsaids, non-narcotics, lots of ice packs, and narcotic pain pills. The latter cut the edge off the pain but do not stop it. Beach vacations make my pain way worse as do sudden changes in barometric pressure with incoming rain storms, cold fronts and hurricanes. High elevations are the ONLY thing that give me near total pain relief. I just retested this theory with a trip to Santa Fe, NM, and my shoulder and complete upper back pain evaporated to about level one on the pain scale. It had recently risen to 9 in Texas for about six weeks, so high that it wiped out the pain from major hip surgery. Yes, I'm going to retire in Santa Fe and hope the high elevation keeps my pain at bay longterm.

      • profile image


        14 months ago

        According to the vote a little more than 50% say no. This is the case with me. I live in New Mexico, latitutude between 5300 and 7300 and I am in constant chronic pain. I just came back from New Orleans and I felt great, I walked all over for several days and couldn't believe how well I felt. The minute I walked off the plane I could barely walk.

      • profile image


        15 months ago

        Is true.we drove to south lake Tahoe take a four days vacation,I wake up the next morning with no joint pain,no stiffines it was a miracle for me first time since diagnosis I don't have to take any pain meds I was living in heaven for four days than we came back to San jose and all the pain is back again.I am back to the meds.So because of that we take the decision to move up there next year and I can't wait.

      • profile image

        Miles Long 

        16 months ago

        I have degeneration in a spot on left wrist, arthritis too. Right knee pain from menicus tear (then corrective surgery ) 24 years ago, back pain. 60 y/o male.

        Went to Denver, CO for four days. I normally live at sea level in a coastal resort area.

        Pain symptoms gone after two days in Denver.

        On flight home back to California noticed within 2 hours all pain back.

      • profile image

        Jack S 

        16 months ago

        I currently live at 5200 ft and find that I get great relief at sea level. The higher the altitude the greater my swelling and pain.

      • profile image

        Gwen Rhodes 

        18 months ago

        We used to live in Costa Rica. My rheumatoid arthritis was fine..very occasionally it would flare. We moved to 9000 ft above sea level in Colorado and I am in pain all the time. I recently flew to Tucson...for three days. Totally pain free. Is it the altitude? I don't know but someone said I should check into it.

      • profile image

        Sharon Lankford 

        18 months ago

        We live 8 months in Oklahoma. I have spinal stenosis in my neck which causes terrible pain in my left shoulder blade but when we move to Colorado at 9500' for 4 months during the summer, it goes away almost completely. Is there an explanation for this?

      • profile image

        19 months ago

        i have been suffering with severe pain for 2 yrs and was just diogosed with fibromyalgia. i hurt all the time all over! went to NM for a week and noticed right a way that i had almost not pain while there. returned to texas and over night i was back to my pain!:(

      • profile image


        19 months ago

        My husband has severe pain, especially when it rains or is humid at lower altitude levels of both Cottonwood, Arizona and Los Angeles, California. However, when we visit Flagstaff, Arizona at elevation of 7,000 ft, he feels very little pain, even in rain, snow, or humidity. Yes, I really wish someone would do more studies!!!

      • profile image


        19 months ago

        I have noticed on 3 different occasions to higher altitude areas - above 7,000 ft I find that within days I no longer ache nearly as much. Upon returning to a lower altitude I begin to ache almost immediately. I wish there were more studies on this effect.

      • profile image


        22 months ago

        I live at over 6,700' elevation. I have had 2 back surgeries and may need another. Last year I did a computer search on the effects of altitude on back pain. The higher elevation, the lower the atmospheric pressure. Thus, your tissues expand. I currently take a pain pill a day just to function each day. After reading these articles, I stopped taking my medication anytime we were going "down the hill" for a few days. No pain. Last year we went to Florida for a month and I didn't have to take a single pain pill. I am convinced that I can live a better life at a lower elevation. We are moving.

      • profile image

        Mary Reinsmoen 

        22 months ago

        I stayed for 6 weeks in the mountains of central Mexico in San Miguel de allende. Altitude was 6400 ft. Virtually no osteo arthritis pain. Went back to Texas in the rio grand valley at sea level where I usually spend 6 winter months, and it returned. (I also spent 3 weeks on the beach on west coast of Mexico and had usual pain. )

        First noticed it last year in San Miguel. Next year I will spend 2 1/2 months in Mexico between San Miguel and a town (Ajijic) 1000 ft less to see the difference.

      • profile image

        Gina Stanley 

        23 months ago

        I have chronic pain in my left hip. An injection didn't help. We took a trip to New Mexico for skiing. I had NO pain the four days we were there. It returned the day after we got back home to Oklahoma.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)