Can Your Joints Predict The Weather?

It’s often a running joke in states across the country (particularly in the Pacific Northwest), that one of the more accurate methods of predicting torrential downpours is to see how full doctors’ waiting rooms are on any given day. This is because many people often complain of soreness, stiffness, aches and pains, particularly in the joints, just as there is about to be a large and significant change in the weather.


It may sound absurd and like an old wives’ tale, but it actually has more truth to it than you may know. It’s true that many people with back pain, neck pain, muscle tightness, joint stiffness and the like, can often be surprisingly accurate when predicting when storms are approaching.

There have been a variety of musculoskeletal disorders diagnosed and linked to similar occurrences like this; there are quite a few forms of ailments that are especially sensitive to a change in weather conditions, including osteoarthritis, migraine headaches, and even fibromyalgia.

When delving deeper, a larege number of meteorologic inputs have been suggested as the reason for this, including temperature, precipitation and even an increased ionization of the air. Much of the research conducted to try to find the direct link between these things has found that lowered atmospheric barometric pressure usually often precedes storms and other weather changes.

In 2010, the International Journal of Biometeorology established a direct link between a low amount of barometric pressure and swelling to joint pain in mice, after a number of tests were carried out. Additional research from other institutions has concluded that this can indeed occur in humans as well. For that, scientists theorize that the likeliest explanation is related to the expansion of fluid in swollen joints, directly after major fluctuations in barometric pressure.

Also, inflammation due to dysfunction, disease or significant injury usually leads to swelling in the joints. Pressure changes, and affects materials of differing densities in different ways; therefore, large declines in barometric pressure cause the fluid within the joints to expand, more than is within the normal range, causing significant pain, and stiffness.

So, whatever the mechanism behind the pain and the change in weather is, the main thing to realize here is that any extensive amount of inflammation needs to already exist within a joint in order for its fluid to be affected by the barometric change. Weather changes do not cause the pain alone, rather they enhance it, to where it is noticeable and extremely painful. If you are experiencing achy joints, weather-related or not, visit your local The Joint…the chiropractic place to be experiencing clear skies in again in no time. 

Consult your primary care physician or chiropractor for any medical related advice.


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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Todd Shoemake

This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of The Joint Corp (or its franchisees and affiliates). You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.