I love wet and stormy weather, however, every time a storm moves in, every old injury speaks up and reminds me of its presence. I know that I’m not alone; unsettled weather can be hard on the body once you’ve hit a “certain age.”
The old wives’ tale that you can predict bad weather moving in with your bones holds more truth than fiction. It turns out this phenomenon is physiological, and not all in your head — or the head of your crazy aunt who seemed to be better at predicting the weather than the local meteorologist.
Scientists have looked at how barometric pressure or the pressure of atmosphere, which changes with the weather, influences people who have chronic pain such as arthritis, bursitis, migraines, autoimmune conditions, etc.
Joints of the hands, knees, hips and back are the most common area that become achy when the weather turns, and any old injury or ongoing inflammatory condition may flare up when stormy weather approaches.
Here’s what researchers suspect but have yet to prove: the air that surrounds us is always pushing against the body and, while it may seem like air has little or no weight, when you consider all the air above us that is being pulled down by gravity it can be quite a force and the body is very sensitive to changes in pressure.
When “flatlanders” travel to the high elevations of the mountains, they often are short of breath and some may suffer mild to serious medical conditions as a result of the altitude. While the pressure changes that accompany storms moving in and out are less dramatic than seeking out the 10,000-foot view they are, nevertheless, significant.
When sunshine and high pressure reign, most of us have no awareness of the atmospheric pressure. However, as a storm moves in, that pressure drops causing many people feel it in their joint whether or not they know the cause.
When I see clients on days a storm is moving in there are more complaints of headaches, body aches, arthritis and bursitis flare ups. This barometric drop means that there is less pressure being exerted against the body, which allows the tissues of the body to expand. The theory goes that this expansion is causing the pain, especially if inflammation is present.
The change in pressure might be only one reason for the pain. Some suspect the change in temperature, humidity and the wind can impact pain for those with sensitive souls as well. The important piece to remember is that the human body is a complex mechanism finely tuned and balanced. From our caveman days being conscious of our surroundings, especially the weather. was necessary for our survival, so should we be surprised that our body can be its own barometer? I would imagine the answer to this question is more complex than one thing or another but. the take-away should be your crazy aunt really might be able to predict the weather with her bones.