It looks like blue skies out your window but the achiness in your knee is flaring up. Could a storm be on the way? Believe it or not, your weather forecasting might have some validity, thanks to the effects of barometric pressure changes on your body.
How Might Weather Cause Pain?
One leading theory points to changes in air pressure. Although many people say that their pain worsens with damp, rainy weather, research has shown that it's not the cold, wind, rain, or snow that affects an increase in symptoms. "The thing that affects people most is barometric pressure," says David Borenstein, MD, FACP, FACR, a rheumatologist and clinical professor of medicine at George Washington University Medical Center.
Barometric pressure is the weight of the atmosphere that surrounds us. If you imagine the tissues surrounding the joints to be like a balloon, high barometric pressure that pushes against the body from the outside will keep tissues from expanding. But barometric pressure often drops before bad weather sets in. This lower air pressure pushes less against the body, allowing tissues to expand -- and those expanded tissues can put pressure on the joint.
In addition, when people have chronic pain, sometimes nerves can become more sensitized because of injury, inflammation, scarring, or adhesions. Hypersensitive nerves can just keep firing, and if there's some expansion internally- as with a change in barometric pressure- then that will affect how pain is signaled.
Research has come to mixed conclusions but barometric pressure is a likely explanation because it does physically affect people's bodies.