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Weather pains or weather related pain classified as Other specified adverse effects not elsewhere classified, is a phenomenon that occurs when people feel pain, particularly joint pain or migraine headaches correlating with changes in barometric pressure and other weather phenomena.
The majority of people that suffer from conditions such as arthritis report feeling severe or less commonly moderate pain when a weather front is approaching. Symptoms also occur when the humidity level changes and when precipitation manifests itself or changes pattern. Other conditions reported in relation to this are any bone injuries, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Victims of explosives also suffer from similar pains due to micro-fractures along their skeletal system.
The perceived relationship between changes in weather and pain has been recorded since the classical Roman age. Hippocrates was the first to note, in about 400 B.C., that many illnesses were related to changes in season. The large body of folklore about how weather affects pain is reflected by traditional sayings and expressions, such as “aches and pain, coming rains,” “feeling under the weather,” and “ill health due to evil winds.”
The first publication of documented changes in pain perception associated with the weather was in the American Journal of Medical Sciences in 1887. This case report described a person with phantom limb pain who concluded that “approaching storms, dropping barometric pressure and rain were associated with increased pain complaint.” Most investigations examining the relationship between weather and pain have studied persons diagnosed with arthritis. After reviewing many case reports, Rentshler reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1929 that there was strong evidence that “warm weather is beneficial and barometric pressure changes are detrimental to patients with arthritis.”
Guedj and Weinberger attempted to correlate pain and activity levels with changes in weather by diagnosis. They instructed 16 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, 24 with osteoarthritis, 11 with inflammatory arthritis, and 11 with fibromyalgia joint pain to monitor their pain and activity every day for four weeks. They found that patients whose pain was attributable to rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or fibromyalgia were all adversely affected by changes in barometric pressure.
Few well-designed experimental studies have examined the effects of weather changes on pain. Hollander attempted to manipulate barometric pressure and humidity in a climate-controlled room devised in his laboratories. Arthritic patients reported more pain with the combination of increased humidity and decreased barometric pressure  but no change in pain when only one weather condition was changed. Although often cited, this study has been criticized because of the small number of subjects (N = 12) and the short time that the subjects were in the chamber.
Changes in barometric pressure and temperature may increase stiffness in the joints and trigger subtle movements that heighten a nociceptive response. Such alteration of structure may be particularly problematic in inflammatory joints whose sensitized nociceptors are affected by movement. Change in barometric pressure may also cause a transient “disequilibrium” in body pressure that may sensitize nerve endings and account for increased pain preceding changes in temperature or humidity.
“People with arthritis have weather-related joint pain for biological reasons,” says Michael Shutty, Ph.D. Many people’s joints swell due to low barometric pressure.
For example, some people can predict when it will soon rain based on their symptoms. Others feel fine in places that have increased barometric pressure, but hurt more in locations where the pressure is lower. Known as barometric pressure therapy, the drug-free solution has proven successful with some subjects.
Scott J. Zashin, M.D., conducted a very small study that exposed patients to 30 minutes in a placebo chamber and 12 hours later in The Rejuvenator (a chamber developed to have an increase in barometric pressure), as well as another study that included one 30 minute placebo session and two 30 minute Rejuvenator treatments over three days. The majority of the patients had clinical improvement using the chamber with the increased barometric pressure. Side effects included self-limited symptoms of ear pressure, sinus pressure and “windburn.” Based on the results of this preliminary study, more testing was recommended to further study the potential benefits and risks of this therapy.