Weather -> Aches & Pains

Posted 2009.05.07 9.40 in Pointless Blather by Stephanie

I’m trying to comprehend the connection between some kinds of weather, i.e. cold, damp, and an increase in the frequency or severity of aches and pains. Maybe you know someone who has mentioned that their aches and pains are worse when it’s damp. Maybe you’ve experienced it yourself. Or, like that familiar phrase “must be a storm coming, I can feel it in my bones”. 

In my experience, damp weather / rain is most often cited as the reason for the increased discomfort. However, I find it hard to accept that dampness / rain is the actual cause. My doubt stems from the fact that our joints and bones are simply not exposed to the elements: they are hidden under protective layers of wet squidgy stuff and wrapped under a water-resistant coating of skin. Consequently, damp or wet air simply cannot directly reach the bones or joints.

So, if not the dampness or rain, what else could it be? Two candidates spring to mind: cooler temperatures, and lower barometric pressure. Damp or rainy weather is likely to be accompanied by a drop in temperature, and a drop in pressure. Storms are likely to be preceeded by both. And yet, lower air pressure is invisible and not directly measurable by humans, and a drop in temperature may be more-subtle compared to rain. I can see how it would be easy to attribute the increased discomfort to the rain/damp as opposed to lower temperatures / lower pressure, simply because rain is more noticable, more obvious.

One final reason that I discount moisture as the true culprit, is that the complaints tend to discuss dampness or rain, rather than simply humidity. On a hot humid summer day, you don’t hear the complaints like you do on a cold damp rainy day.

Looking at temperature – low temperature alone can’t be the cause, or people would be suffering all winter long. Perhaps it is not low temperature, but the downward change. I’m still skeptical, as this would lead me to expect people to be suffering through the autumn – and I don’t recall hearing people complaining that their aches and pains are worse all through the autumn months. So, I’m going to discount temperature as the cause.

That leaves air pressure. Is it strictly low pressure, or merely a downward change in pressure? I’m not ready to decide yet. I can imagine (minor) pysiological changes that a drop in pressure could cause which would lead to increased discomfort, that may not persist through a prolonged low (but stable) pressure. On the other hand, I can envision the opposite – that a prologned stable low-pressure condition could also lead to greater / more frequent pain.

At this stage, I will continue observing, and try to narrow down the cause. I am fairly confident though that the true cause has to do with barometric pressure rather than moisture.

p.s. I am particularily curious about this effect today, because I spent all of last night awake in agony from terrible back pain(*)… and by pure coincidence, the weather turned cool and damp.

(* I’ll blob about this another day… now I have to try and go be productive at work.)

One Comment

  1. […] long ago, I was pondering the correlation between aches and pains, and weather. While I don’t have any further data or revalations to add to that post, I figured I’d […]

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