Weather and Joint Pain, is there a connection?

Every time it rains or snows, or there is inclement weather, I always see an increase in pain in my patients. I hear more complaints from patients during this type of weather. The pain they complain of is more intense during this time as well. People always think it is in their mind that their pain increases with bad weather. Patients always ask me if it is possible for their pain to increase during bad weather. I had a great aunt Marcella, who lived to be 95 years old. She said that when it was going to rain her knuckles would light up like light bulbs and get irritated. She had osteo-arthritis in her hands, and her knuckles would get red and inflammed when the weather changed. This was not in her head, I saw her knuckles getting red and inflammed during this type of weather.All of these people can not be imagining an increase in their symptoms with bad weather. So what does happen to cause an increase in pain when the weather changes?Inside of our joint capsules, we have gas. This gas exerts a certain amount of pressure pushing out against the joint capsule. In the air, there is a certain amount of pressure as well, called the barometric or atmospheric, pressure. This air pressure pushes in against the joint capsule. The air pressure and joint gas pressure maintain a level of equilibrium, they balance each other out so that one is not excerting too much pressure against the other. The pressure in your joints is not overpowering the pressure in the air and vice versa. But when the weather changes, like when it is going to rain or snow, the air pressure drops. It doesn’t drop a lot, but it does drop. So while the air pressure is dropping, the pressure in our joints stays the same. In relation to the decreasing air pressure, the pressure in the joints exerts more pressure outward because there is less air pressure to push against the joint capsule to balance out the gas pressure inside the joint. This happens to all of us when the weather changes. For those of you who have had a trauma or injury to a joint or osteo-arthritis or any other type of sensitivity in our joints, then that area of irritation or previous injury will get irritated from the change in joint pressure. A trauma or injury or osteo-arthritis will make a joint more sensitive and irritated and therefore the joint will feel the change of pressure more acutely than a joint that is healthy and had no history of injury.That is why some of you will feel more pain and irritation when the weather changes. It is not in your mind. During the periods of changing weather, give yourself more time in the morning to get going. Do some extra stretching. Exercise and get your body moving and the blood flowing, but during times like these don’t exercise too hard. Your joints will get more sore more easily if you push it when the weather is bad.



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