College Central®

Ask around. The Network works.®

Barometric Pressure and Pain

Jacqueline Raposo -- The old wives tale of “knowing it’s gonna rain by the pain in my bones” is no tale at all for many people. Read why drops in barometric pressure and rise in humidity can turn some people into meteorologists.

Today it’s raining in New York City…

(…as I type this, Sunday).

After my first bout of Lyme at 12 years old, I learned that the old wives tale of “knowing it’s gonna rain by the pain in my bones” was no tale at all. Now, after 15 years of Lyme and its friendly demons, several parts of my body react to the drop in barometric pressure and rise in humidity.

Only recently, though, did I learn why this is so.

First off, think back to your last trip on a plane. Know how you have to chew gum or adjust your jaw at the plane descends to crack the pressure in your head? As the barometric pressure drops, your head hurts and becomes stuffy until it adjusts.

From Colin Marquis, senior meteorologist at “You take a balloon and you put it into a vacuum. As the pressure is reduced around that balloon, it expands,” he explained. “And so the same thing within the tissues around the joints. If there’s already swelling, inflammation, abnormal mechanics in the joint, as the pressure goes down, the gas and tissue expand, and this is felt as more pain by the patient. This is why they sense a change in barometric pressure.”

From a 2003 Japanese study published in the International Journal of Biometeorology: “In the first documented animal behavioral study of weather effects on joint pain, scientists artificially produced chronic inflammation of the rat’s foot, which was analogous to clinical features of human neuropathic pain. When the rats were placed in a low-pressure, low-temperature environment, they exhibited signs of foot joint pain that were not seen in control rats.”

Now, for some people, high barometric pressure increases their pain.

For others it’s more of a temperature thing. Studies have been contradictory, as in many ways pain and its rate of change is subjective, as patients may measure their pain differently or have varying outlooks. All I know is my body whines when the rain comes. One day of energy can be sapped completely with a drop in pressure and temperature. Mental, emotional or physical? While I love rainy days for the romance of them, I can’t deny that 9 times out of 10 my body just can’t take them. So there.

(insert chimes) The more you know.

Sources: USAToday
Weather Channel

A classically trained actor, Jacqueline Raposo has lived with Lyme Disease, and other health conditions, since the age of 12. In moving from chronic illness to chronic wellness, she has explored numerous means to better understand and heal her body and now offers natural health remedies, medicine foods, and clear insight based on her personal experiences, research, and success. Visit her blog at to learn more about dietary and lifestyle factors in achieving greater wellness and balance.

© 2009 I Am A Whole Human, Being

Return to top

The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect those of College Central Network, Inc. or its affiliates. Reference to any company, organization, product, or service does not constitute endorsement by College Central Network, Inc., its affiliates or associated companies. The information provided is not intended to replace the advice or guidance of your legal, financial, or medical professional.