If you know someone with arthritis, chronic migraines or other chronic pain, you've probably heard them claim to know what the weather will be like. Some people who claim to have this ability even go so far as to say that they are better at forecasting the weather than some Doppler radar. Recent polls suggest that 70 percent of Americans believe that this ability is reliable. But is there any scientific evidence for these claims?
Many studies have been made in an attempt to answer this question, and though none have been conclusive, they have linked chronic joint pain to changes in barometric pressure. In 2003, a study conducted in Japan successfully linked air pressure and temperature to joint pain in rats, though no human connection was made.
Another study, conducted in Argentina, showed that osteoarthritis sufferers felt more pain on days when the temperature was lower than usual. The same study showed that rheumatoid arthritis sufferers were more affected by high humidity and high pressure, while fibromyalgia sufferers were affected only by high pressure. The study concluded that, though there was a clear link between chronic pain sufferers and weather patterns, there was no evidence to support real weather prediction.
Doctors and scientists have several theories about weather and chronic pain. The first theory is that drops in pressure allow tissues in the body to expand, meaning that inflamed tissues in arthritis patients will become more inflamed. Another theory holds that colder temperatures allow for a higher pain tolerance in patients, therefore those suffering from chronic pain will be more affected during warmer weather patterns.
So what does this all mean? It means that claims of weather patterns affecting levels of pain in arthritis patients and other chronic pain sufferers are not to be dismissed. Studies have clearly shown that air pressure and temperature are a factor in these situations. This is good news for people who suffer from chronic pain and feel a connection between their pain and the weather - you are not crazy! However, there are a few things that should be mentioned as to what this does NOT mean. What it does not mean is that anyone is actually able to scientifically predict weather. None of the patients in these studies were even close to accurate in actually predicting the weather. These studies also do not mean that if you are a chronic pain sufferer you should pack up and move to a warm, dry climate immediately. Though it may help, it is important to remember that there is no guarantee that this will help in your specific case.