Many patients have gone on record to say that their chronic pain worsens under certain weather conditions. Recent research showed that approximately 90% of people accredited exacerbation of their general pain symptoms with high humidity and frosty weather.
This association between pain and weather has even seeped into our everyday vernacular with phrases such as “I feel under the weather”. Still, proper scientific studies never abounded around this topic and the few researches that have been made haven’t drawn any solid conclusions, even when comparing the same kind of pain that result from the same disease.
The insinuation that pain severity and weather are associated has noticeable repercussions for not only the lifestyle of the patient, but also for the proper management plan of said pain.
The majority of research has focused on weather related arthritis pain by trying to understand how meteorological occurrences affect arthritic episodes. Because arthritis patients often times correlate weather with arthritic pain flare ups and intensity, scientists decided to follow up on these claims and take a closer look at the reliability of the connection between weather and intensity of arthritic pain. Their conclusion was that barometric pressure and pain intensity were not correlated. Furthermore, their hypotheses is that patients often times relate things that are not associated with each other, a process called selective matching, in order to produce a clear and noticeable coincidental cause.
Pain as a result of osteoarthritis produced similar results. However, a significant association was found between hip osteoarthritis and a notable increase and decrease of barometric pressure. They also found that there was no relation between the same pain and temperature and precipitation.
A hypotheses of how weather affects pain
Although the mechanism under which certain weather conditions can exacerbate pain is not fully understood. The current thought is that a decrease in barometric pressure also decreases the force exerted by the atmosphere onto the actual joints that are affected by pain. Since reduced pressure is off the joint, this enables the inflammation to further expand, causing the increased intensity of pain. This might make sense in the case of arthritis or osteoarthritis, but not for other conditions that cause chronic pain.