Why Pain Increases with Bad Weather

Today Jan Michael Bacalzo, Physical Therapist, and Clinical Director of our 57th street office in Manhattan tells us why pain increases with bad weather.

Why Pain Increases With Bad Weather….

By Jan Michael Bacalzo PT

Winter is definitely here and along with it comes pain for a person suffering from arthritis. A very common scene in a physical therapy office is patients complaining of increase pain every time it is raining, cold, damp or humid. Is it just an old wives tale or is there a medical explanation why people with arthritis are achier during bad weather?

There are some reasons why joint pain increases when the weather is bad. One is the effect of cold temperature to our joint fluid. As the temperature drops the viscosity of the joint fluid decreases as well. Just think of how a car’s engine oil gets thicker during winter prohibiting it from lubricating the engine. The same goes with the joints. The colder it gets, the slower the flow of the joint fluid and thus, patients feel the stiffness. Another reason is the effect of barometric pressure. A research conducted at Tufts University shows that low pressure in the weather causes expansion or swelling in the joints or soft tissues resulting in nerve irritation which causes more pain. As the research explains it, imagine putting a balloon in a pressure controlled room and then bring the pressure down. By doing this, the balloon expands. The same thing happens to the joints and soft tissues as the air pressure goes down. The joints and soft tissues expand and push against nerves which are pain sensitive structures.

Whether joint pain is caused by cold weather or low pressure, patients should do a regular routine of flexibility exercises to avoid the debilitating effects of arthritis. Because the last thing you want is to be more accurate than your local weather guy when it comes to predicting bad weather!
Have you experienced this? Let us know in comments!