Does Rain Really Make Arthritis Pain Worse?

Q: During rainy season, I noticed my lumbar feeling arthritic and painful the moment I got up. Has anybody else noticed on cold or rainy days that their arthritis and pain increases* sensitivity?
Expert Answer

Several people who have arthritis have reported increase* in pain during rainy seasons and some have reported relief when they go to warm areas. Even though this has been reported many times no scientific research has been solid enough to prove this happening.

Some people believe that when the barometric pressure and the air pressure drop, the tissues can swell in the already inflamed joints causing a push against the muscles and nerves in the area making it more painful.

Even though some scientist sat there is a relation between cold weather and arthritis they cannot explain the exact mechanism.


There are several theories on why the weather would affect the arthritic condition. The common theories are about the barometric pressure. Some of the theories have talked about the cold weather. The same way that a decrease* in barometric pressure would cause swelling of inflamed joints, the cold weather will have a direct opposite effect. If the temperatures shrink down tissues it pulls on nerves resulting to pain.

Some forms of arthritis such as lupus can be affected directly by weather. Some patients of lupus have Raynaud’s Syndrome which causes cold-induced vasospasms; the decrease* of blood supply in the hands. This decrease* in blood supply in the hands can worsen the arthritic condition during cold weather. Many of the patients of lupus also suffer from photosensitivity. This means if they are exposed to the sun they can develop skin rashes and also activate the symptoms of lupus such as pleurisy and kidney disease. In some patients of lupus the warm weather can provide a symptomatic relief.

Some people have related worsening of arthritis symptoms with psychology. For example some doctors have associated the arthritis symptoms with the state of the patient such as gloominess which they say can make the pain experienced even worse and difficult to bear.

There are possibilities that there is no association between change in weather and the symptoms of arthritis. Studies in psychology suggest that people tend to see patterns even where none exist. It can incidentally happen that in some days the cold weather will be accompanied by the symptoms of arthritis. People will always tend to confirm the evidence and ignore the contrary evidence leading to misinterpretation.

Failure of dispassionate observation has also been linked to the belief. Clinical medicine usually requires blinding so that the patients or the clinicians do not know what exposure is active. Failure in blinding of the patients or clinicians results to report distortion. Weather is a factor that is hard to blind thus this can also be the reason for the anecdotes.

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Expert Author : Kelly Everson (Consumer Health Digest)

Kelly Everson is an independent editor, an award-winning writer and an editorial consultant in the health and fitness industries. Currently, she is a contributing editor at Consumer Health Digest.

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