Can Joints Predict The Weather?

Although the meteorologist on your local news is often wrong about the weather, you’re sure you can feel the forecast in your bones — and you’re not wrong! According to pain management specialist Dr. Robert Bolash, significant anecdotal evidence shows that weather changes affect joint pain. While scientists haven’t agreed about why it happens, many theories are connected to barometric pressure.

What is Barometric Pressure?

The weight of the air that surrounds us is called barometric pressure. When barometric pressure rises, the weather typically gets better and when it falls, it typically gets worse.

Barometric Pressure

How Does Barometric Pressure Affect the Joints? 

When barometric pressure falls and humidity increases, Dr. Bolash claims the resulting damp, cold weather seems to increase pain in the joints. There are a few reasons this might happen.

  • Less Cartilage: If the cartilage inside a joint has worn away, the pressure change may impact the nerves in exposed bones.
  • Expansion and Contraction: When less air is pressing on the body, the muscles, tendons, and tissues can swell and irritate the joints.
  • Thicker Fluid: Joints may feel stiffer in low temperatures because the fluid inside them thickens.
  • Lazy Rainy Days: When you wake up to cold and rainy weather, you’re probably temped to stay inside and have a lazy day. However, sitting around rather than walking around the park or your neighborhood can contribute to stiff joints and discomfort. 

Is Warm Weather Better?

Warm Weather

Many people assume that by escaping cold weather, they may feel some reprieve; however, researchers say warm weather isn’t necessarily better. During a study of people in different climates across the US, those in beautiful, sunny San Diego reported more weather-related pain than those in Nashville and Boston—locations that experience a much greater range in temperatures throughout the year. The unfortunate truth is that humidity and barometric pressure change everywhere, not just where it’s cold and rainy.

How to Ease Weather-Related Joint Pain

When your joints start hurting, you don’t have to suffer in silence while you wait for the storm to clear. There are many easy things you can do to help your body feel better for more sunny days ahead!

  1. Stay Warm: Help counteract cold weather by keeping your body warm with layers, gloves, and socks. When you’re home at night, use a thick or heated blanket and turn on the heater.
  1. Take a Paraffin Bath: Dip your hands and feet in a paraffin wax machine to help soothe your joints.
  1. Exercise Regularly: Low-impact exercises like walking and swimming can help keep your muscles strong but are also gentle on your joints. Swimming and water aerobics in warm water are especially beneficial for loosening muscles and easing aching joints. Exercise also helps you maintain a healthy weight to put less stress on your joints.
  1. Stretch: Before participating in exercise, stretch lightly to release stiff joints and prepare the body for movement




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