If your knee acts up when a snow storm is approaching, or you feel a twinge in your shoulder when rain is on the horizon, you’re not alone. Many people say their old sports injuries help indicate impending weather. However, opinions in the medical field vary on whether or not this is an accurate forecast.
“There is some data suggesting that a drop in barometric pressure can cause pain, but the link is not entirely understood,” says ZongFu Chen, MD, co-director of the Spine and Pain Center at UPMC East. “Individuals with arthritis caused by a previous injury tend to notice the change in pressure, while others with a prior injury but no arthritis might not. Cold temperatures can often make muscles more tense, which can also cause pain at the site of an old injury. So a patient may notice more pain particularly during the winter months.”
Dr. Chen advises that most weather-related aches and pains can be relieved with over-the-counter medication or heating pads. However, he cautions that people should not be too quick to blame their ailment on the winter weather, and to aware that an injury flare-up could need further medical attention.
“If the pain becomes more severe over time, the cause could be something more serious,” says Dr. Chen. “Listen to your body. You can often tell when it is no longer just routine aches and pains. There are many treatments available that can help make winter a lot more tolerable.”
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Sports and physical activity bring with them a potential for injury. If you are looking to prevent, treat, or rehabilitate a sports injury – or improve athletic performance – UPMC Sports Medicine and the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program can help. We serve athletes and active people of all ages and experience levels. Our experts partner with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers, and about 100 other high school, college, and regional teams and events throughout Pennsylvania – working daily to build better athletes.