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September is Pain Awareness Month; I actually find this ironic because if you have chronic pain, you probably don’t need anyone to remind you of this.

September also signals the change of seasons. Autumn is my favorite time of year. I love the warm days and cool nights. I love watching football with family and friends and seeing the beautiful colors of changing leaves.

But with changing seasons comes the change of weather. I live in Ohio where we experience 4 distinct seasons. I think I’m a better predictor of changing weather than the most talented meteorologist.

Have you ever been able to predict the weather because of your pain? I know I can and I’m pretty consistent about it. For me, 48-hours before a weather change, my pain level will sky rocket!

My lower back is more stiff and achy, and it will actually start throbbing. I’ve asked my pain doc about this and he swears that there isn’t a connection. But he does admit that he has several patients who also say their pain is worse with weather changes.

I think the increase in pain comes from the changes in barometric pressure. What is barometric pressure you ask?

According to How Stuff Works, a barometer measures the air pressure. When the barometric pressure “rises”, it means the pressure of the air is increasing. When the barometric pressure is “falling” the air pressure is decreasing.

Interesting fact? The barometric pressure in space is 0.00! Space is a complete vacuum – cool hunh!

But what actually happens to our body when the barometric pressure changes? According to researchers – A LOT can happen to our bodies due to the changes in barometric pressure.

Mother Nature Network points out that changes in barometric pressure can impact blood pressure, cause headaches or migraines, make it more difficult for people with diabetes to control their blood sugar, and – you guessed it! – make pain worse.

A study from Tufts University in 2007 found that every 10-degree drop in temperature patients reported an increase in arthritis pain. They also found that with low barometric pressure, low temperatures and precipitation can cause an increase pain. The researchers aren’t sure why this happens.

The Arthritis Foundation even has a cool page where you simply put in your ZIP code and it will tell you the current weather conditions in your area and the Current Arthritis Index. The Index will show you your predicted joint pain level based on the weather conditions.

So, I’m curious! Does the change in the weather affect your pain level? Do you track the barometric pressure to see if there is a connection with your pain level? What does the changing weather do to your pain level?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Until next time

~Dr. JB Kirby

4 thoughts on “Why does the weather make my chronic pain worse?”

  1. Hi,
    Thank you for this informative article. I’m with your opinion about the relation between the pain and weather. Also, I think there is a psychological relation too. Anyone knows that this thing makes me more tired, so the brain will start to make a barrier.
    with optimism, we can overcome our fears or pain. We shouldn’t think much about that! At these difficulties times, we should put our goals between our eyes, and run after it.
    It is a hard equation; it is a tough battle! But believe me, the psychological pain is more cruelty than the physical pain.

    Thanks a lot.

    1. Hi Rosette,

      Thank you so much for reading my blog. You bring up a great point about the psychological pain. I’ll have to do some research about that and write about it in one of my blogs!

      ~ Dr. JB Kirby

  2. Hi Jill,

    Love the post. I definitely feel the changes in weather as well with both my migraines and joint pain.

    I’ve had a physical therapist explain the phenomenon to me and think it makes sense. If you would think of your joint as a balloon filled with water and with a normal barometric pressure that balloon is completely supported.

    As a low pressure system approaches and the barometric pressure drops, there is not enough pressure to support the balloon, so it begins to collapse. That is when your joints begin to ache. It would be like taking away a splint which is supporting your joint and it begins to ache more.

    As the barometric pressure rises again, the balloon begins to fill out and become more supported by the pressure. It’s like putting a splint on for support.

    1. Hi Amy!
      Thank you for your comment. I know that when I spend time out west in the desert, my pain isn’t nearly as bad as it is here in Ohio!

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