It is not unusual to hear a person say they can tell the weather is changing based on their pain level or degree of stiffness. As we leave winter behind and encounter the rapid weather changes that are part of spring time in Tennessee, it is likely that you may hear this or possibly even say it yourself. Is this an old wives tale? A rationalization of psychosomatic symptoms? Or could it be real?
You may be surprised to know that there have been scientific studies to investigate this phenomenon in humans. Studies have looked at “low back pain, osteoarthritis (OA) in multiple joints and rheumatoid arthritis” and how they are affected by changes in barometric pressure. They found that there is a connection.
“Overall there is an inverse relationship; as barometric pressure decreases, pain increases.” While this is generally a minor difference, it is none the less important to note. An exception to this rule was a study that found the opposite – “…among women with hand OA, higher pain was significantly associated with days of rising barometric pressure. While most patients may have a slight increase in pain with the arrival of a storm system, these patients would actually experience less pain in stormy weather.
There is also some research with rats that suggests decreased barometric pressure may increase neuropathic pain such “as might be seen in humans with sciatica, piriformis syndrome or other similar clinical conditions.”
It is prudent to be aware of the possible relationship between the weather and your pain levels, especially “in clinical treatment of . . . chronic, nonspecific low back pain.” As is always the case, some patients may be affected more than others. Therefore, some may benefit from a change in treatment during periods of weather changes in order to better control pain. Schedule an exam, and evaluation with your chiropractor and learn how conservative chiropractic care may help you navigate the changing weather and it’s effects on your body. If you have not previously seen a chiropractor, you can find a TCA member doctor at https://www.tnchiro.com/find-a-doctor/.
You can find additional information about the studies that have been documented at: http://www.chiroaccess.com/Articles/Weather-Changes-Atmospheric-Pressure-and-Joint-Pain.aspx?id=0000184.