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“My Joints Ache More In The Cold!”

Often heard, but is this true? Many people can correlate their pain getting worse with the weather being cold, but why is this, and is there any causal reasoning for it? Can we actually “feel it in our bones”?

This study concluded that “data supports the belief held by many osteoarthritic patients that changing weather patterns influence their pain severity.”. Again, this talks about the belief that weather effects pain, more than a robust reasoning.

The most common reasoning is to do with Barometric Pressure. Barometric pressure is the weight of the atmosphere surrounding us. If we imagine the tissues surrounding the joints to be like a balloon, high barometric pressure that pushes against the body from the outside will stop the tissues from expanding. If however, barometric pressure drops – before bad weather sets in, for example – this lower air pressure pushes less against the body, allowing the tissues to expand – and these expanded tissues can put pressure on the joint and nervous system, causing pain! This is similar to our legs swelling on a long-haul flight, again associated with the drop in pressure.

This is all very hypothetical, and research is very much in the “we don’t know” area – however consistent grandmas knee seems to be!

Cloudy With A Chance Of Pain is the world’s first smartphone-based study to investigate the association between weather and chronic pain. Data collection for the site began in January 2016 and ended in April 2017. They are now analysing more than five million pieces of symptom data submitted over 15 months alongside comprehensive weather data from across the UK. It will be interesting to see their results, due in Spring 2018!

N.B. There are no ‘one size fits all’ style quick fixes in most injury scenarios, so these article shouldn’t be seen as such. They are merely guides to a better understanding of how our bodies work.

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