Does Weather Influence Joint Pain?

The weather makes my knees bad

My shoulder’s acting up, it’s probably going to rain

We’ve all heard something along these lines. Someone claiming their joint pain is exacerbated by the weather. But, is there any science to support it?

Person holding knee in pain

Multiple studies have actually tried to test this. Two, on over 1,000 people with Osteoarthritis, concluded that there were associations between joint pain and humidity(1) and barometric pressure(2). Other studies have found a similar link for migraines, but the opposite for masticatory (jaw) pain(3).

It seems as if individual conditions are affected differently by weather changes, although it is still unclear as to why this relationship occurs. Some theories state that since barometric pressure is the weight of the atmosphere around us, when it goes down our tissues have a small ability to expand more and when it goes up our tissues have a decreased ability to expand. This can potentially contribute to compressing or stiffening the area.

Other theories believe that it could have something to do with influencing some psychological aspects of pain, such as stress or attitude. Whatever the mechanisms, there ARE studies out there that help provide objective support to the claims of weather influencing pain. So grab that umbrella…and that IcyHot!


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Written by Dr. Brandon Buchla, DC, CSCS

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