Anyone suffering from joint and muscle pain is apt to tell you he can predict the weather based on how badly he is aching and the stiffness and pain coming from his joints. This is not a fallacy. Heat and humidity, cold weather and changes in barometric pressure, affect a person’s joints and muscles and can result in aches and pains.
Joints consist of sensory nerves called baro-receptors. When the weather changes, these sensory nerves respond, primarily reacting to fluctuations in air pressure. Warm weather typically does not cause joint inflammation; however, humidity can trigger an inflammatory reaction in joints, according to Dr. Robert N. Jamison of Brigham and Women’s College in Boston.
When the barometric pressure is stable and not too high or too low, you may find that you are feeling better. However, when wet weather is looming, the barometric pressure drops and your tendons, ligaments and muscles expand, and the nerves that are sensitized send out pain messages to the joints.
Those suffering from a condition called fibromyalgia, which consists of all over muscular pain, report that they feel more pain when it is humid and when it is cold. Rising humidity, gusty winds and falling barometric pressure can contribute to muscular pain, notes Nervepainandweather.co.uk. Transient disequilibrium or the pressure that air puts on the environment, including your body and nerve endings, may account for the increase in pain when humidity is about to change or when the temperature fluctuates.
According to Dr. Mark A. McQuillan, an associate professor at the department of internal medicine, divisions of general medicine and rheumatology at the University of Michigan, arthritis sufferers experience pain and uncomfortable pressure in joints during low barometric pressure, high humidity and particularly when a storm looms. Barometric pressure changes affect the oxygen levels in your body, according to Headaches.org. Lower air pressure means that your blood vessels must adapt by contracting. The change in the nature of the vessels dictates how much blood and oxygen travels to your brain, which explains why some people suffer from headaches and migraines when the barometric pressure changes.
Johns Hopkins conducted a study that revealed those people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) were affected by high barometric pressure and high humidity whereas those patients suffering from osteoarthritis were affected by high humidity. Further noted in the study by Johns Hopkins is that climate does not significantly alter or affect the course or occurrence of joint pain, although some joint pain sufferers experience less pain in drier, warmer climates. Living in a drier climate means that there will be lower barometric pressure, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that an arthritic person is going to be pain-free if he moves to Arizona. No climate or environment is totally arthritis-proof. Even those living in warm locales report they still struggle with arthritis and joint pain.
Generally, heat, whether coming from the sunshine or from a heating pad, is soothing to achy, stiff joints and muscles.