Knee Pain and Weather

Knee Pain and Weather



Either you’re laying there in bed, sitting at lunch or just hanging out at night and your knee starts to ache. You haven’t done anything physically exhausted and you’re wondering to yourself, ” Why does my knee hurt?” Within the next few hours, the weather gets colder and even starts to rain. After a few days pass with the same scenario happening multiple times, you start to realize to yourself, “I bet it’s going to rain soon.” To no surprise, there it is, it’s raining outside. Your first assumption – like mine – is to associate the cold weather with your knees’ aching and feeling stiff. Well, you are right – to a certain a degree. According to David Borenstein, a rheumatologist and clinical professor of medicine at George Washington University Medical Center, says it’s typical for your knee pain to start before you notice any signs of ran. So, you ask:

What’s up with my knee pain and weather?

“The thing that affects people most is barometric pressure,” states David Borenstein. However, this is not fact, rather a theory. Individuals with knee pain have said that their pan gets worse in humid, rainy weather as well.

What is barometric pressure?



“Barometric pressure (also known as atmospheric pressure) is the force exerted by the atmosphere at a given point. It is known as the “weight of the air”. A barometer measures barometric pressure. Measurement of barometric pressure can be expressed in millibars(mb) or in inches or millimeters of mercury (Hg). Normal pressure at sea level is 1013.3 millibars or 29.92 inches of mercury.  Fluctuations in barometric pressure are usually a sign of weather conditions. A rise in pressure usually means improving weather while falling pressure may reflect impending inclement weather. Barometric pressures will also vary with altitude and moisture.” – MyMobileBay

Think of your knee joint like a ballon in which it has the ability to expand and deflate. When the atomospheric pressure(air pressure) is high, there is no room for your tissues to expand as the pressure pushes against your knee from the outside. However, when bad weather sets, the barometric pressure drops. When the barometric pressure drops, this allows “space” to be filled in your knee. Think of the tissues in your knee joint pushing against each other as if someone put a needle in your knee and started pumping air into your knee, expanding your tissues, forcing them against your bones. This is where knee pain and weather are associated with each other.

“It’s very microscopic and we can hardly notice, except that we have these sensations… When people have chronic pain, their nerves can be more sentisized due to injury, inflammation, scarring, or adhesions.” – Robert Newling Jamison, a Harvard Medical School professor and researcher who has studied chronic knee pain and weather in patients.

Take these findings with a grain of salt because there are no hard facts and direct findings between knee pain and weather. However, Borenstein does take a side towards the argument that barometric pressure is the leading explanation for knee pain and weather. Here’s his example for his reasoning:

“It’s not metaphysical; it’s actually physical. It’s the same kind of thing that you have with people who go up in a plane or [astronauts]…they are creatures of the atmosphere… when there’s less pressure, we expand… even though plane cabins are pressurized, our feet often swell during a flight, but not while we’re seated at our desks for similar amounts of time at sea level.”

What can I do about my knee pain during bad weather?

  • Keep your joints warms. Wear thicker clothes. Keep your house warm.  Apply a heat pad around knees’ to allow the muscles surrounding your knee to relax.
  • Prevent swelling. Try sleeping with a compression sleeve for your knee, be sure it’s not too restrictive of blood flow.
  • Stay active. Move around and do simple exercises like jogging in place, keeping good circulation in your joints.
  • Keep a positive mentality. Don’t sit around moping about your knee, be proactive about taking necessary steps to keep you knee joint healthy.
  • Understand that knee pain and weather is not permanent. It’s not going to rain forever or be bad weather forever to keep your knee in pain, so don’t stress too much about the pain. Again, BE PROACTIVE!


WebMD – Pain and Weather

Knee Pain During the Winter Weather

Face or Myth: Weather Affects Arthritic Joint Pain

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