Everyone has heard people talk about their joints hurting during or before a storm. Many of us probably heard it over the holidays. Often trying to forecast the weather based on their joint pain. There are believers and skeptics, but there may be some truth to it. According to Robert Newlin Jamison, PhD at Harvard Medical School, there is a link. he has studied the effects of weather on chronic pain patients.
One of his recent studies looked for a link between weather and chronic pain in 4 different cities: San Diego, Nashville, Boston, and Worcester. He found that 2/3’s of the people felt a difference in pain related to weather. Interestingly, they found the most sensitive population was San Diego, known for its great weather. There is not a consensus on the cause of this link but the leading theory is barometric pressure.
Barometric pressure is the weight of the atmosphere, which often drops ahead of a storm. The theory relates to decreasing barometric pressure placing less pressure on the body, therefore, allowing tissues to expand or swell, putting pressure on a joint, and possibly causing pain. Also, nerves can become hypersensitive with changes in barometric pressure, and this can cause increased levels of pain.
While there are theories about this link, its smart not to take too much away from this. I generally discourage people from thinking about it too much. Often times people see a bad forecast and their first thought is about the pain there going to experience. These “neurotags” can lead to a self fulfilling prophecy of sorts as the brain relates storms with joint pain.
So, when bad weather arises, try not to
think about your joint pain, try to warm those joints up before you get moving or head outside, and remember that ice can help calm the pain and swelling after a long day.