Does the Weather Affect Back Pain?

If you suffer from migraines, joint pain or back pain, you may feel that you can predict changes in the weather just as well as any seasoned weather forecaster.

Many people believe they experience more arthritis and back pain on cold, rainy days compared to warm, dry days.

Research suggests that air pressure is the most likely reason people feel that weather affects their back or joint pain, not temperature or humidity.

So how exactly does the weather affect back pain? Nerve endings in your joints have receptors that can sense pressure changes. It is a well-known fact that heat and cold can affect how you feel. But with aching joints and painful backs, it has more to do with barometric pressure.

There is some scientific evidence to support this. A 2003 Japanese study published in the International Journal of Biometeorology found a direct connection between low pressure, low temperatures and joint pain in rats.

Scientists artificially produced chronic inflammation of the foot in a group of rats. When these rats were placed in a low-pressure, low-temperature environment, they showed signs of joint pain not seen in control rats.

Does the weather affect back pain?

Scientists have been looking for a connection between joint and back pain and weather changes for several decades, with inconsistent results.

Dr. George Urban, associate director of the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago, firmly believes that his patients can predict the weather based on their headaches.

The ‘weather factor’ is a very common trigger for many migraine sufferers,” he says. “Usually, it is during or before a decline in barometric pressure. There is no special group of patients who are more susceptible to those changes.”

However, 2 recent studies looking at how the weather affects arthritis have produced conflicting results.

The first looked at weather and arthritis pain in 151 people compared to 32 people without arthritis. All participants lived in Cordoba City, Argentina, which has a warm climate

Participants with arthritis generally experienced more pain when the temperature was low, and when the humidity and air pressure was high. On the other hand, people in the control group were totally unaffected by weather.

The second study looked at 154 older people with osteoarthritis who lived in Florida. These participants reported their arthritis pain scores for up to 2 years, and researchers then matched their reported scores with daily temperature, barometric pressure, and precipitation status. Interestingly, no significant associations were found between any of the weather conditions and osteoarthritis pain at any site.

Some have suggested that a drop in air pressure which often accompanies cold, rainy weather allows tissues in your body to expand. This may allow already inflamed tissue to swell even more, causing more arthritis and back pain.

Also, pain thresholds drop in colder weather and most people are less likely to be outside, getting exercise and their circulation flowing – which normally helps keep pain in check.

In conclusion – does the weather affect back pain? For now, this question remains a mystery.

The more important question you should be asking is “How do I get rid of this back pain?”

Luckily, that is a little less complicated than the weather. People often get the most relief when they have a well round back pain treatment plan. In order for you to know what treatments will work best for you, you will need to better understand your current condition.

Visit the conditions section of our website to find the information that is most relevant to your situation.

Back Pain Conditions

Filed Under: Back Pain
Written By:  Updated:
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Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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