Joint Pain and the Weather

March 18, 2014

There are many things that various types of joint pain have in common with each other. While they can occur on very different places on the body, most joint injuries cause pain and inflammation. They are also treated using very similar means: rest, anti-inflammatory drugs, and an exercise therapy regimen like SimpleTherapy, are all extremely effective. One slightly more surprising thing that joint injuries have in common is that they tend to cause joints to be more stiff and painful depending on the weather.

There are several types of weather conditions that can have an effect on how joint paint feels on any given day. Knowing the effect each type of weather has on your joints will allow you to better anticipate which days may be more difficult, and will allow you to compensate in various ways.


Cold weather is one of the most common environmental conditions that cause sufferers of joint pain to complain. While the application of cold is recommended in some injuries to lessen swelling, cold weather can make joints feel more painful, as muscles constrict and tighten in the chill. Keeping as warm as possible will help a great deal, and applying heat directly to a sore joint, such as via a warm water bottle, will help the muscles relax their tension.


Damp weather, whether cold or hot, can make joint pain and stiffness worse as well. Those dealing with osteoarthritis, in particular, can be quite sensitive to dampness, and report that their symptoms change in wet weather. Spending time indoors can be helpful, and decreasing your activities when your pain and swelling are worse is a good idea.

Barometric Pressure

When the barometric pressure shifts suddenly, it can increase joint symptoms such as pain and swelling. Changes in the barometer are caused by high and low pressure systems passing through the local atmosphere, and each person reacts to these pressure shifts differently. Some people find high pressure more painful, while others are more susceptible to low pressure. Either way, this is a challenging weather change to deal with, as generally you just have to wait it out until the weather passes.

Understanding how weather can affect joint pain allows patients to deal with it more effectively. Even if there aren’t direct measures you can take to mitigate the effects of the weather, knowing and being able to plan around worsening joint pain can be useful. Incorporating flexibility and low impact or non-weight bearing exercises such as pilates, yoga, or water activities can also be extremely beneficial with painful joints.

It turns out that folk knowledge about those with sore joints and old injuries being able to predict the weather may have some truth behind it!

Related: Can Knee Swelling Predict Weather?

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