Pain & Weather Changes

by Peter on August 19, 2010

The weather has changed in Vancouver today. As a Vancouverite I’m aware that this signals the end of summer, thank you very much. It was great while it lasted. And I’m also aware that patients will be coming in to the office in droves, all complaining of aches and pains that seemed not to be there last week. I see it every time, the weather changes and everyone begins to feel their aches more. But is there scientific evidence to support this phenomenon?

As far as I can see there is no conclusive scientific research to suggest that weather changes and patterns effect us. But why then do so many patients have symptoms that worsen when the weather turns sour?

Many patients of mine firmly believe that a change in the weather, be it temperature, barometric pressure or humidity trigger joint aches or pain, set off their arthritis, cause headaches, and with my fibromyalgia patients, flare-ups.

Professor Robert Jamison and his colleagues (1995) work at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Pain Management Center. There the waiting rooms of pain centres fill up with more people in damp, humid weather than on warm and sunny days. They gave questionnaires to hundreds of people (557) in cities, such as Boston and Worcester USA, that have notoriously changeable weather and also to people in cities with warm, stable weather such as San Diego. Most said that weather changes affected them. Most complained about cold, damp conditions but with the majority of patients the aggravation began before the actual weather shifts.
Jamison says, “This leads me to conclude that changes in barometric pressure are the main link between weather and pain. Low pressure is generally associated with cold, wet weather and an increase in pain. Clear, dry conditions signal high pressure and a decrease in pain.” (Harvard University Gazette, Sept 26. 1995)

The mayo clinic, says that the barometric pressure is directly related to the amount of lubricating fluid secreted in the joints. Yet another theory put forward by studies in Israel and US have pointed out that a change in weather, typically rains, is preceded by clouds of negatively charged ions which in damaged nerve endings of back pain patients can mimic pain signals and hence the patient feels an increase in pain!

What is your experience? Share with us, as clinical evidence is as significant as scientific studies.

In Health

Peter Roach, RMT, CNMT, Laser Therapist

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