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The Weather and Arthritis: Does Rain Increase Pain?

Why does rain and cold seem to increase arthritis pain?

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Do your joints ache when rain is in the forecast?

People whose arthritis seems to flare before or after it rains wonder if damp weather is making their arthritis worse. Rheumatologists say they get this question a lot, even though not much evidence supports a link between sore joints and damp weather.

Elaine Husni, MD, a rheumatologist at Cleveland Clinic’s Orthopaedic & Rheumatologic Institute, considers why arthritis pain goes up when the rain comes down.  “Some people believe that when you drop the barometric pressure, your air pressure, that sometimes your tissues can swell.” Dr. Husni says. “When your tissues swell in an already inflamed joint, sometimes that can push against muscles and nerves in the area and make it appear more painful,” she adds.

Dr. Husni says that weather does not cause arthritis or make it worse. She says it just may alter the symptoms a bit for that day.

Many of her patients tell her cooler, damp weather is worst, so Dr. Husni says to pay close attention to the weather report and anticipate what’s coming. She says if you know that damp weather bothers you, then you can make some arrangements for that day.

“You might want to bring some extra sweaters or gloves, something that will kind of shield you from the cold and the dampness,” she says. Dr. Husni notices that many of her patients tell her warm weather actually makes their joints feel better, so summer offers them some relief.

Tags: arthritis, barometric pressure, joint pain, joints, orthopaedic, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatologic, rheumatologists, swelling
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  • Bigmom57

    My sciatic nerve always tells me 24hrs before bad werather- rain or snow. Once the bad weather stars, it’s fine. Has been like that for about 15 yrs.



      • Geri Childers

        That’ your sinuses.

      • smartalek

        PERHAPS IF YOU DIDN’T YELL SO LOUD, it wouldn’t hurt as much?

        • dias52

          i suffer from rheumatoid arthritis for 20 years now and as a matter of fact i prefer cold weather than hot weather. when it’s cold i do not swell as much as in hot weather. i never had warnings for bad or good weather either……it hurts everyday even taking all the latest medications and treatments and physiotherapy it does not work with me….that’s why i do not care about weather reports….i just wait for a good day to do my chores

      • boss

        Do you know how many prescriptions for oxycodone they would have to prescribe for this horrible pain that can possibly afffect anyone with nerve damage. From athletes to corple tunnel for me its rotor cuff surgery and I get head ache pain from the nerve damage from thenssafedole block the put in my neck to numb my arm fir surgery. The pain shoots from my brain down my neck. No sinus honey.

  • loretta

    I really feel  worse pain in damp weather. I really don’t think it;s our imagination. I’m to the point where I hate rain.

  • Roz

    I can feel a storm coming when it is two days away. When the weather map shows rain storms in
    Chicago, I am in NY and I can feel the barometric pressure drop, my lower back pain increases
    sometimes to a point where I cannot force myself to engage in activites that I had planned for
    weeks in advance. I don’t believe when drs. say there is no correlation between barometric pressure and osteoarthritus. Some of my Drs. do believe this true because many of their patients report the same thing.

  • Ned Sweeney

    In summer, winter, fall and spring, any change of weatherlights the fuse. Hot or cold, it is the barametric pressure but the temp also makes me uncomfortable with reduced biologic ability to adjust to temps.

  • MrRess

    Like every other article I’ve seen about this, “No but yes but maybe.”

  • Denise 80

    My MD at Cleveland clinic tells me that barometric pressure has a lot to do with migraines and the intensity of my dizziness, tinnitus and vision. I have some brain damage due to a high fever & super virus. I believe him!

  • Raptor1

    I hate to be negative, but I’m going to. That was a worthless article – If it could be called an article. First of all, how does something “appear more painful.”? And if storms/pressure merely “alter the symptoms a bit for that day,” isn’t that the very thing patients are TELLING you? Yes, the symptoms are altered! Exactly! Translation: IT HURTS WHEN IT RAINS! Who said weather CAUSED arthritis? Who said it made it (the actual condition) WORSE? Nobody! Did any of you say that? I sure didn’t say that. We simply said it HURTS. That means, get this again now, THE SYMPTOMS ARE ALTERED!. These Einsteins seriously bungled this “article.” I think they’re buying content from housewives who wouldn’t know a medical fact, or an objective article, from a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And this passes for a “medical website.” They need to actually HAVE arthritis before they start talking out of their butts, and they actually need to get some of these “Featured Experts” pictured on the left to write some of these “articles” because I can guarantee this was not written by a doctor, or even someone who has the faintest idea how to present information.

    Additionally, it’s not psychological. When it’s rainy I’m debilitated, and I don’t actually even have rheumatoid arthritis according to blood tests. I have bilateral hip dysplasia. And many times – by far MOST times, actually – I won’t even have any idea whatsoever that it’s going to rain, but I’ll be in pain and check the weather and it’ll be forecast or raining close by. It’s a fact, whether you’re scientists can figure out WHY or not. And just because you don’t know WHY something happens doesn’t mean you contradict people who experience it first hand just to cover up the fact that there could be something you can’t actually explain. That’s the height of arrogance.

    • Jenny Hall

      Hi, I just read you article and totally agree-I do think it,s definitely worse prior to rain and I believe it,s due to the high/ low weather pressure-inturn causing increased pressure on the joints, by J Hall RN

    • Brenda Malone

      Thank you. You are spot-on. My OA kills me when it is cloudy and rain is expected. I can forget that I even have OA when it is sunny and low humidity, but, bang, when the weather begins to turn, it comes with a crippling vengeance.

      Just because the docs do not know the REASON for this phenomenon, they should not question its validity.

      • Vicky

        Totally agree with this…Who made scientists God?! Everyone seems to think that everything is fake or unreal or in people’s head unless a scientist says oh yes I discovered that. Scientists need to start reading quran because things written in there 1400 years ago they are now claiming to discover now. Which is ridiculous! And we are the sick ones with all the pain we know the symptoms better than they do. Doctors need to learn to listen to there patients because not everything is taught in medical school.

        • Shnide

          The Qu’ran is a waste of good paper. A myth.

    • NurseB

      It made my day to read your response…i was going to respond “even Drs can be idiots too” How does weather not make arthritis worse it just makes it feeeeeeel worse. -_- arthritis =pain….if the pain is worse youve had a flare up and its guess what…its worse.

      • smartalek

        The first commenter, Raptor1, had it right: it’s arrogance on the part of the doctors. They think they know better than their patients what the patients are and are not experiencing!
        They need to listen to their patients — and their nurses — more.
        A question for consideration:
        Is this arrogance…
        …learned in med school?
        …already ingrained in the personalities of pre-meds (would-be doctors)?
        Do you think it can be unlearned, or at least controlled?

        • boss

          Its not just in doctors offices its in the work place every supervisor or head person thinks they some how rule the world in their aspect.

    • Connie

      Raptor1. YOU NAILED! Thank you very much! I read this and thought what Heck? It did not make any sense!

  • Sarah Mae Whiteley

    yes my arthritis aches bad wen it rains i no thats what it is i can tell :-):-):-)

  • Michaelle Brewer

    I refused to be treated by a doctor who tried to “educate” me about the myth and fallacy of rain and arthritis pain. If you cannot acknowledge my pain, how can you effectively treat me? When it rains, I hurt. End of story.

  • kim

    Well this information is silly. The reason why is in the first paragraph:

    “People whose arthritis seems to flare before or after it rains wonder if damp weather is making their arthritis worse. Rheumatologists say they get this question a lot, even though not much evidence supports a link between sore joints and damp weather.”
    So – Rheumatologists get the question A LOT but there is no evidence. Well, aren’t these A LOT points the evidence you need? If A LOT is not enough, how about ALMOST ALWAYS?
    I don’t have arthritis but rain, humidity and damp weather makes my fingers ache. It is not psychological, it is physical.
    My word.

  • Ocho

    Yes, my knee and lower back severely painful , when there is. A bad storm snow or rain.

  • Y

    The science of barometric pressure is real. How vulnerable any one individual is to feeling the effects depends on the existing level of joint inflammation which affects pressure within the joint capsule. Why wouldn’t one pressurized system react to pressure exerted by another?

  • Laura Bier

    Just because science doesn’t validate this theory DOES NOT mean it isn’t true. For years, I have been suffering from arthritis and every time it is supposed to rain/snow/storm whether day of or a couple days prior, my joints and bones are in pain!

  • Doctor Proctor

    Barometric pressure is not enough to affect any expansion of tissues in the joints. It is not measured in pounds of pressure but in small fractions of ounces. The differences in barometric pressures felt in a storm are about the same as what one experiences in an elevator ride or a car ride over a small hill. Now, consider this, the difference between the high barometric pressure in a sea level city like Miami compared to the low barometric pressure in a city almost two miles high in elevation like Leadville, Colorado, which is 9,927 feet in elevation. Imagine someone who normaly feels joint pain in a weather event, flying from Miami to Leadville. At the time of completing the flight would this person fall to the ground in excruciating pain. No, it would not happen, never has and never will. There will be no change in pain at all.

  • Roxy Jones

    I have RA and I definitely feel when the rain is coming. I read a great blog post that gives a little more insight to this.

  • pat

    I hurt all the time but before rain moves in I get much worse. More pain pills do not help things either. I wish I never had it but they are telling me that having rhuematic fever so bad as a child has left me with this. All I can tell you is it hurts like hell some times.