Why does my knee hurt when it rains?
Does it seem like you are able to predict the weather better than any meteorologist? Does your joint pain seem to worsen when it rains?
Well, you are not alone. And, it is not just an old wives’ tale……your joints may actually hurt more when the weather changes. There is scientific validity to this phenomenon. The reason involves some pretty simple physics. There is pressure inside and outside of your joints. Normally when the outside pressure changes, a healthy joint is able to adjust the pressure inside the joint relatively easily. Unfortunately, when your joint becomes arthritic, it is harder for the pressure to equalize. Similar to trying to clear your ears when flying if you are congested……not a fun thing to do. Stormy weather is usually accompanied by a low pressure weather system. As the outside (ambient) pressure starts to decrease when the weather system approaches, your arthritic joints are not as easily able to equalize to the new ambient pressure. As a result, there is a relatively higher pressure inside the joint compared to outside of the joint. This results in increased tension on the tissues, hence increased pain. You may have also noticed similar episodes during altitude changes when flying or when SCUBA diving.
While treatment of arthritic conditions can be complicated, the easiest way to help prevent this from happening is to maintain a healthy weight and engage in a regular exercise program. While you can not reverse arthritic changes that have already occurred, it is possible to decrease the stress on the joint and slow down the progression of the arthritis. This will result in an overall better quality of life with less pain.
- Tokumori K, Wang DH, Takigawa T, Takaki J, Ogino K. The relationship between joint pain and climate conditions in Japan. Acta Med Okayama. 2011 Feb;65(1):41-8. PubMed PMID: 21339795