The Rain-Pain Connection

You’re not alone if you’ve noticed your arthritis acts up when the weather changes. When air pressure and wind speeds change, many people experience various body aches, including headaches and increased inflammation. Some people may even be able to “predict” weather patterns based on their body aches.

Previous research connecting the weather to pain has had mixed findings.

However, three recent studies have suggested a correlation between the two.

In the first study, 222 participants with arthritis in their hip reported worsening pain and stiffness when barometric pressure and humidity increased. A second study examined 800 people in Europe with arthritis in their hips and in their knees or hands. It found that their pain and stiffness also increased when humidity rose, particularly in colder weather. The third study took 2,600 participants with chronic pain (mostly arthritis) and found a “modest” relationship between pain and increased humidity.

“Having reviewed the studies, I find myself not knowing how to answer my patients who ask me why their symptoms reliably worsen when the weather is damp or rain is coming, or when some other weather event happens. I usually tell them that, first, I believe there is a connection between weather and joint symptoms, and second, researchers have been unable to figure out just what matters most about the weather and arthritis symptoms or why there should be a connection.” – Dr. Robert Shmerling, writing for the Harvard Health Blog.

Although the weather is impossible to control, these studies can provide valuable insight for prevention and further research to understand the exact mechanisms by which pain and inflammation respond to weather changes.

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