Learn more about the connection between joint pain and weather

We all know someone who brags that they can predict the weather based on their joint pain. Maybe you’ve experienced this phenomenon yourself: The day before a downpour, you notice increased stiffness, soreness, and aching in your joints.

Does weather really affect joint pain?

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Pain Under Pressure: How Barometric Pressure Affects Joints

It’s a common question that patients ask their doctors: “Can weather make my joint pain worse?”

The answer isn’t entirely clear, but it seems that there may indeed be a connection between weather and pain in your joints.

For more information, or to find a primary care doctor, visit www.UPMC.com/PCP or call 1-855-676-UPMCPCP.

Although it may seem like it’s the dampness that makes your joints ache, the culprit appears to be barometric pressure.

Also known as atmospheric pressure, this is a measure of the pressure, or weight, of the surrounding air. In a study published in the May 2007 issue of the American Journal of Medicine, researchers at Boston’s Tufts University examined the effects of changes in weather in 200 people with osteoarthritis of the knee.

They found that for every 10-degree drop in temperature, knee pain increased. Increases in barometric pressure also were associated with worsened pain.

More recently, Dutch researchers compared reported pain and function scores in 188 people with osteoarthritis of the hip to weather records.

They discovered that pain scores worsened by one point for each 10 percent rise in humidity. Function scores also worsened as barometric pressure increased. While other studies have shown conflicting results, it seems possible that weather can impact joint pain.

“Fortunately, joint pain is temporary. Keep yourself comfortable by staying warm. Stay active and be aware of your mood. Sleep well and stay hydrated. You might also need to adjust your medication regimen. Stay happy and active,” said Mamta Patel, MD, UPMC Family Medicine South. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.

About UPMC

A $21 billion health care provider and insurer, Pittsburgh-based UPMC is inventing new models of patient-centered, cost-effective, accountable care. The largest nongovernmental employer in Pennsylvania, UPMC integrates more than 90,000 employees, 40 hospitals, 700 doctors’ offices and outpatient sites, and a 3.8 million-member Insurance Services Division, the largest medical insurer in western Pennsylvania. In the most recent fiscal year, UPMC contributed $1.4 billion in benefits to its communities, including more care to the region’s most vulnerable citizens than any other health care institution, and paid more than $500 million in federal, state, and local taxes. Working in close collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, UPMC shares its clinical, managerial, and technological skills worldwide through its innovation and commercialization arm, UPMC Enterprises, and through UPMC International. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside on its annual Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. For more information, go to UPMC.com.