The Weather and Arthritis: Does Rain Increase Pain?

Why does rain and cold seem to increase arthritis pain?

man's hands with arthritis pain

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.

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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.

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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.

    • dave

      Well I know its raining out right now here in ct..and my whole body feel it..I believe rain and damp weather makes it worse and I know if I eat too much sodium it makes it worse like one article said textbook don’t teach everything

  • 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.

          • Adam

            Do you really want to die by saying this?

    • 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.

        • Observer

          The arrogance is more painful on rainy days.

    • Connie

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

    • Lisa Silva Coffield

      I am a 44 year old female, and I also have severe pain in My neck, back,hands, and hips when the weather is damp. The reason I came across this article was because, I googled arthritis pain today,because I have been in pain for over a week.My pain is always worse when its damp,or raining… it’s been raining for a week also.

    • Dianne Zazac

      i AGREE with you…I have Rheumatoid and osteo arthritis and I also work as an Occupational Therapy Assistant. Your joints are essentially tiny sacs of fluid [barometers if you will) and barometric pressure can effect them…more pressure in the joint equals more pain…it’s not in your mind…I work with a lot of older people and we definitely notice an increase of pain complaints during bad rain or snow…so if you’re in pain, rest when possible, use ice or heat, massage and pain relievers

    • Kathryn King Raedeke

      Yes yes yes… I remember years ago when I was going to doctors who were prescribing me anti depressants for what is now called fibromialgia because they said it was all in my head… only God knows and for those that are in tuned to our bodies, I don’t need someone telling me how I feel.

  • 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!

    • debbie

      Hi everyone ran across this article and needed to comment, I’am so lucky my doctor totally agrees with rain pressure etc makes our syptoms worse so much so she said I should move to Arizona or a dry climate I did for 8 months what a difference until monsoon season rain came and my body felt like I was back home in Indiana. I feel for all of you, weather especially rain can make us hurt so bad no one can understand unless they have arthritis. Thanks for reading and I hope you all can find a doctor as great as mine take care and know that I know how you feel its so real

      • Observer

        Personally, I experience fewer migraines and less joint pain at sea level. When I am at high altitude, it is the changing barometric pressure, either up or down, that causes symptoms. At sea level, the air pressure is greater. At high altitude, my body cannot adjust quickly to changes in air pressure. There is no scientific evidence to back my claims, but this is what doctors would call clinical evidence.

        Has anyone considered the effect of histamine on this process? Strangely enough, taking antihistamine relieves this body pain when analgesics do not. I do not have sinus pain during these flare-ups.

      • Vicky Warzyniak

        I currently live in Indiana and for over 2 yrs I’ve been dealing with this horrible numbness and tingling in my toes/feet, calves, and fingers, and no Dr I’ve seen or tests provide the answers so it will stop. I do have a herniated disc and sciatica flare ups to which I’ve learned that only yoga will ease, and understand I feel all this due to the nerve in my back being compressed. BUT!!!…this past July I went to Aruba for a week and everything went away! I hadn’t felt that good for years!! By my second day there, I was so amazed at dinner that I didn’t have to stand and break out in my yoga stretches at the table! My girls were thrilled!…and relieved lol. I felt good enough to do a marathon. But within 12 hours after returning to Indiana, here it all comes flooding back again. It was full on by next day. Told one of my Drs about this and he looked at me like I was nuts. He said the relief I felt was due to me feeling relaxed and less stressed because of being on vacation. I am a 49 yr old sensible, smart, and huge common sense thinker woman, and I know that stress and relaxation are not my causes or my remedy. Another Dr suggested it could’ve been the barometric pressure having the affect on my back. And places like the Carribbean and out west would be good for me. Now that was what made perfect sense to me! I’m leaving for Vegas this weekend and I can’t freaking wait!! If my symptoms are relieved again like they were in Aruba, mama is packing it up!

  • 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.

  • Lisa Silva Coffield

    I have terrible pain all over my body during damp weather. I wish I could talk the way the scientist do, because that would mean I wouldn’t feel this pain!! It’s been raining for a week, and I have been hurting over a week. The reason I read this today was because I had googled arthritis pain during damp weather. I’m so tired of hurting, and thought I might get some answers as the medication I have for arthritis isn’t giving e much relief.

  • SeaSand

    Doctors have a “know it all” attitude because they have been taught to believe they know everything by the general public. So many people treat them like they do not make mistakes – they begin to believe it themselves. Then, when someone tells them something different than their opinion, they dismiss it. We have unintentionally taught doctors to think they know more than we do about what is going on in our bodies. I have seen 5 different docs about the same issue and each one has a different diagnosis and each one is sure.

  • Carmishia Chowning

    Well im a hha nd im here with my client nd it has been raining nd she is in pain

  • mothergoddess

    Dr, Husne said, – when your tissues swell in an already inflamed joint, sometimes that can push against tissues and nerves in the area, and make it appear to be more painful. She should have said SEEM (to others) more painful, since pain really is a subjective thing that can be felt but not measured. As a nurse of many yrs with considerable, severe inflammation, she is correct. However, just before it rains, I SEEM (ha ha) to have so much pain that even anti-inflammatories, Morphine and muscle relaxants SEEM to be totally ineffective- but I would hate to experience the pain w/o them. No one in the article said it was all in your imagination, just that there is no definitive evidence of it. I have 2 autoimmune disorders and Fibromyalgia- they think that is all in your head too because they have not found any definitive evidence for what causes it. I only know I had 3 babies and never hurt like I have today- worst I have ever had- debilitated. Rainstorm is off the coast.

  • Stacey

    It’s raining now in England and all my joints and bones are stiff and inflamed which always happens when it rains, hence ‘the tin man’ effect. I’ve had juvenile R A and O A since the age of ten I’m now 36 and I can predict the rain, Rheumatologists may have a PhD and blahdi blah but they’ve let me down numerous time, for instance I broke my FEMA head 6 years age, for a year I was told it was a ruptured tendon and was refused crutches, and had one measly X-ray. I was bed bound for six months until I was referred to another Rheumatologist who performed an MRI which ‘showed a dislocated FEMA bone and a none existent FEMA head, I’m on my third hip. So their not as clever as they think !!!!

  • markie

    I’ve had osteoarthritis since I was 30 and the weather has NEVER made it better or worse.Until I’ve grown much older , I was very , very active… an RN… I’ve walked the wards for 50 years, 8 to 12 hour shifts. The one causative factor that makes my life miserable now is LESS exercise due to retirement and joint injury… most incurred on the job… Soon I will be bionic with two new knees, hips and a new L shoulder… Who said that no good deed goes unpunished?

  • itsmeteddyb

    I love everybody’s responses, especially Raptor 1! That was exactly what I was thinking. I am in severe pain right now in Chicago but was just in Vegas last weekend and walked three to four times more than I normally do for at least 4 days in a row, albeit with a cane, and did not feel the kind of pain I am feeling right now just sitting still. Thank you all for sharing. I didn’t know there were so many people who felt like this.

  • Colonel Mustard

    I live in Arizona at a higher altitude and the weather for the most part is beautiful. But, in the fall and spring, when it is damp and cooler, my arthritis flares up on rainy days. I have a theory though. My doctor told me that my problem is a my immune system over-reacting and that is what causes the inflammation. My theory is that when cold, damp weather strikes, my system prepares for the cold by triggering the immune system to be on guard for pathogens and thus affects my joints with inflammation. I may be wrong, but since they say arthritis (or joint pain) is caused by an immune system malfunction, it kinda makes sense.

  • Brenda Bennett VanRootselaar

    This person who wrote this is contradicting herself. I know my own body. When the humidity is high my knee really hurts. No lie! When it is dry, very little or no pain. Tired of these so called experts telling us that this is an old wives tale.