Weather pains

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Weather pains
Classification and external resources
ICD-9-CM 995.8

Weather pains or weather-related pain classified as Other specified adverse effects not elsewhere classified, is a phenomenon that occurs when people feel pain, particularly joint pain or migraine headaches correlating with changes in barometric pressure and other weather phenomena.[1][2]


The majority of people who suffer from conditions such as arthritis report feeling severe or less commonly moderate pain when a weather front is approaching. Symptoms also occur when the humidity level changes and when precipitation manifests itself or changes pattern. Other conditions reported in relation to this are any bone injuries, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, and carpal tunnel syndrome.[3]


The perceived relationship between changes in weather and pain has been recorded since the classical Roman age.[4] Hippocrates was the first to note, in about 400 B.C., that many illnesses were related to changes in season.[5] The large body of folklore about how weather affects pain is reflected by traditional sayings and expressions, such as "aches and pain, coming rains," "feeling under the weather," and "ill health due to evil winds."

Case reports[edit]

The first publication of documented changes in pain perception associated with the weather was in the American Journal of Medical Sciences in 1887. This case report described a person with phantom limb pain who concluded that "approaching storms, dropping barometric pressure and rain were associated with increased pain complaint."[6] Most investigations examining the relationship between weather and pain have studied people diagnosed with arthritis. After reviewing many case reports, Rentshler reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1929 that there was strong evidence that "warm weather is beneficial and barometric pressure changes are detrimental to patients with arthritis."[6]

Surveys and experimental studies[edit]

Guedj and Weinberger[7] attempted to correlate pain and activity levels with changes in weather by diagnosis. They instructed 16 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, 24 with osteoarthritis, 11 with inflammatory arthritis, and 11 with fibromyalgia pain to monitor their pain and activity every day for four weeks. They found that patients whose pain was attributable to rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or fibromyalgia were all adversely affected by changes in barometric pressure.[7]

Few well-designed experimental studies have examined the effects of weather changes on pain. Humidity has been found to have an effect on the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.[8] Hollander[9] attempted to manipulate barometric pressure and humidity in a climate-controlled room devised in his laboratories. Arthritic patients reported more pain with the combination of increased humidity and decreased barometric pressure [9] but no change in pain when only one weather condition was changed.

Possible mechanisms[edit]

Changes in barometric pressure and temperature may increase stiffness in the joints and trigger subtle movements that heighten a nociceptive response. Such alteration of structure may be particularly problematic in inflammatory joints whose sensitized nociceptors are affected by movement.[10] Change in barometric pressure may also cause a transient "disequilibrium" in body pressure that may sensitize nerve endings and account for increased pain preceding changes in temperature or humidity.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Scientists still mulling causes of weather-related pain, by April Chan, USA Today
  2. ^ Weather & Arthritis - Barometric Pressure Affect - Humidity - Climate, About
  3. ^ Do Your Aches, Pains Predict Rain?, by Brunilda Nazario
  4. ^ Influence of Weather on Report of Pain, by Robert N. Jamison, PhD, International Association for the Study of Pain Newsletter
  5. ^ Rosen S. Weathering. New York: M. Evans, 1979
  6. ^ a b Shutty MS, Cunduff G, DeGood DE. Pain complaint and the weather: weather sensitivity and symptom complaints in chronic pain patients. Pain 1992; 49:199–204.
  7. ^ a b Guedj D, Weinberger, A. Effect of weather conditions on rheumatic patients. Ann Rhem Dis 1990; 49:158–159.
  8. ^ Rasker JJ, Peters HJG, Boon DL. Influence of weather on stiffness and force in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Scand J Rheumatol 1986; 15:27–36.
  9. ^ a b Hollander JL. The controlled-climate chamber for study of the effects of meteorological changes on human diseases. Trans NY Acad Sci 1961; 24:167–172.
  10. ^ Rasker JJ, Peters HJG, Boon DL. Influence of weather on stiffness and force in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Scand J Rheumatol 1986; 15:27–36.