Can the weather trigger knee pain?

24 July 2015
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Category: First Aid
24 July 2015, Comments: 0

Knee pain is considered as a symptom frequently linked with the development of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Individuals who have these conditions oftentimes experience an increase or decrease in the level of pain that appears to be linked with changes in the weather conditions. Even though the studies conducted on weather-related symptoms generate conflicting results, knee pain that occurs in such circumstances might originate from changes in the temperature, barometric pressure or relative humidity.

Weather factors

The barometric pressure is the measurement of the density of air particles in the atmosphere. During warm weather, only a few particles occupy a given area of space. During cool weather, the particle density rises and more air particles take up the same area.

Humidity is the measurement of the moisture content in the air. For those who reside in high-humidity environments, the air contains more moisture than air in a low-humidity environment. As for the relative humidity, it measures the current amount of moisture in the air in relation to the maximum possible moisture content.

Knee pain

Many individuals with arthritic knees associate changes in the level of knee pain with weather changes.


Osteoarthritis is described as a degenerative condition affecting the joints that causes stiffness and pain. This condition instigates the destruction of the cartilage and associated bone in addition to causing abnormal growth of new bone. As for rheumatoid arthritis, it is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the synovial membranes lining the joints. Aside from pain, it can trigger evident disfigurement of the cartilage and bone as well as joint deformity.

What are the potential causes?

Many individuals with arthritic knees associate changes in the level of pain with weather changes. There are a number of potential theories for the weather-related changes. In one theory, a decrease in the barometric pressure linked with cold, rainy weather allows the swollen tissues in the joints to further expand, resulting to increased levels of pain.

Other potential theories include the lack of pain-reducing exercise during cold weather; mood changes linked with rainy cold weather and reduced level of pain tolerance associated with cold weather.


The studies conducted have generated conflicting results when measuring the effect of weather on pain. In one study, it revealed evident connections between rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and increased barometric pressure and humidity as well as links between osteoarthritis symptoms and increased humidity.

On the other hand, a study involving individuals with osteoarthritis did not reveal any evident increase in weather-related knee pain. In another study, either drops in the temperature or surges in the barometric pressure can aggravate the symptoms of arthritis.

Considerations to bear in mind

Relocating to a warm, dry climate can help improve the knee pain. On the other hand, relocating will not guarantee that the individual will no longer experience pain. For those who reside in cold or wet climates, a doctor should be consulted on ways to relieve weather-related knee pain or on any part of the body.

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