How weather may affect joints?

Have you ever heard our parents, our grandparents, or our elderly mention that they have knee or joint pain during rainy days, or cold weather? A recent study, it shows there is no connection between rainy weather and the symptoms of back or joint pain. In the study, there are more than 11 medical visits, 2 million on rainy days & 9 million during dry days. There is no clear pattern linking the weather and joints pain, but there are slightly more visits on dry days. 

It’s actually not from the weather, but maybe from the barometric pressure. Barometric pressure measures the pressure of the air that can affect joints in our body, but humidity, precipitation, & temperature play important roles. 

People with arthritis are among the worst affected by the weather change. They have joint inflammation. The common type of type Osteoarthritis (OA) caused by repetitive movements, & rheumatoid arthritis (RA), & autoimmune disease. There is no treatment that can reduce inflammation & relieve pain & stiffness. A rheumatologist at Cleveland Clinic, Elaine Husni said, “Weather doesn’t cause arthritis or make it worse. It can temporarily cause it to hurt more. 

How weather may affect joints

During a 2014 study in Australia, there is no link between back pain and rain, temperature or air pressure. From the collected data, which features the weather at the time of the symptoms, and compared to the weather in a week and a month before. Among the 200 patients (during 3 months study), it shows that knee pain increases modestly during temperature fell and the rising of barometric. 

The Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, links rainy weather and changes in weather to potential increased aches and pain, in knees, hands and shoulders. 

There are also a few theories that show the connections between joint pain and the weather. 

  • The 1st theories: 

People with joint pain for example arthritis are sensitive to the changes in barometric pressure. When the cartilage (function as a cushion between the bones inside a joint is worn out, it will expose the nerves in the bones and it might pick up on the changes in the pressure).

  • The 2nd theories: 

The barometric pressure changes can make the tendons, muscles and scar tissue expand & contract. This will create pain joints affected by arthritis. A study from Arthritis Foundation, shows the relationship between barometric pressure & arthritis pain. In 2014 study shows 222 patients with OA hip problems, support the barometric pressure and relative humidity influence symptoms. 

In one study, it shows that each 10° temperature and the rising barometric pressure drop linked, incremental increase in pain & triggered pain among people with arthritis. 

  • The 3rd theories:

Low temperature can make fluid inside joints thicker, and will make the leg feel stiffer. 

That’s why people tend to stay indoors & lounge around more, when it’s cold & rainy outside joints can get stiff and painful. 


How changing weather causes pain

According to Robert Bolash MD, ”Weather changes actually can affect chronic pain, specifically joint pain. Scientists don’t agree on exactly how this may occur, but the anecdotal evidence is significant in leading us to think achy joints & rainy days are related.” 

During high humidity with low barometric pressure, the weight of air surrounding us will press on the planet and on us. With the decreasing pressure (which can also create bad weather), the air presses less on our bodies and this allows tissues to swell up slightly and possibly resulting in the enlargement of tissues that can irritate joints. 

Cold temperature can make muscles, ligaments and joints stiff & painful. Dr. Bolash said, “When barometric pressure, temperature fall and humidity rises, patients will complain that they feel more aches & pain. The damp and cold seems to exacerbate pain,”. He also said that the changes in pressure, temperature and humidity could trigger discomfort. Especially the speed at which these changes occur.  Some people’s bodies are more sensitive to the changes in weather and some people find relief in warmer climates

“Those with arthritis, neck pain and other types of musculoskeletal issues tend to report most weather-related pain. But the weather doesn’t appear to alter reporting connected to nerve pain conditions, like complex regional pain syndrome or neuropathy”, says Dr. Bolash. 

The researcher said, what type of climate doesn’t matter. For example, in different regions they have varied weather and climate types. One study found, people in mild, moderate San Diego reported weather-related pain. There is more pain among the residents in these 3 colder cities: Nashville, Boston, & Worcester, Massachusetts. 

“Chronic pain doesn’t care where you live. Humidity and barometric pressure tend to change everywhere.” says Dr. Bolash.


How to ease weather-related joint pain


  1. When the temperature drops, keep yourself warm. During the day, take warm baths or showers, dress in layers (wear gloves & warm socks) and at night, use an electric blanket and increase the heat in the house.
  2. Take a paraffin bath. It’s a small machine that melts paraffin wax. Just dip your hands and feet and let the wax harden on the skin. Let the body absorb heat and soothe achy joints. A heating pad can also be used on sore spots.  See a doctor and ask for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Consider anti-inflammatory medication or treatment – “For single joint (eg. Former knee injury) pain, pursue steroid injection/ treatment. Maintaining mobility is the best way to fend off widespread joint pain without a physician & true in any kind of weather”, Dr. Bolash says.
  3. Keep a healthy weight and stay active. Do some exercises that are gentle on the joints, for example yoga or swimming. This can help build muscle and bone strength. Before exercise, do some warm-up with some gentle stretches. Building muscle may help reduce the pain and by using our muscles for physical activity, it may be able to support joints.
  4. To increase flexibility and maintain joint health, just do stretching regularly and yoga.
  5. Water provides resistance & lifting weight from aching joints. This exercise will not strain your joints. It can help loosen stiff muscles, strengthen joints, build muscle strength & ease discomfort.
  6. Take good care of health, proper nutrition & enough sleep.
  7. BIOBAY Joingard is made from traditional medicinal plant extracts that are scientifically proven to be effective against inflammation, which is often the major cause of pain. By suppressing inflammation, this supplement helps to reduce pain in various conditions such as joint pain, arthritis and muscle ache.