Does Weather Influence Joint Pain?

The weather makes my knees so bad” or “My shoulder’s acting up, it’s probably going to rain”. You hear something along these lines a lot, someone saying that their joint pain is exacerbated by the weather. But, is there any science supporting how weather can influence perceived pain?

Knee pain

  • Multiple studies have tried to test this. Two studies on 222 and 810 people with Osteoarthritis concluded that there were associations between joint pain and humidity2 and barometric pressure3. Other studies have found a similar link for migraines, but the opposite link for masticatory pain1.
  • It seems as if different conditions are affected by a different way from weather changes, although it is still unclear as to why this 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 (both of which can contribute to compressing the joint). 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, these studies help provide objective support to the claims of weather influencing pain.

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Written by Dr. Brandon Buchla, DC, CSCS

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