Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

Does Rain Cause Pain? And What to Do About It

Weather and pain explained.

The weather is changing, rainy days abound and winter is coming.

You have chronic back pain, arthritis, joint pain, gout, an old injury, etc. You also know that your pain is going to get worse for the next several months.

But you don't know why, and more importantly, you don't know what to do about it.

Why the pain gets worse:

Image courtesy of Tiverlucky at FreeDigitalPhotos
Source: Image courtesy of Tiverlucky at FreeDigitalPhotos

When the pressure in the atmosphere is low, clouds and rain are much more likely, and the dampness increases pain and stiffness. One theory on how dampness increases your pain is that the reduction in pressure in the atmosphere allows bodily fluids to move from blood vessels to tissues, causing swelling and pressure on the nerves in those tissues, as well as an increase in fluid in the affected joints. The pressure on the nerves and in the joints would naturally cause increased pain, stiffness and reduced mobility.

Weather contributes to increased pain in a number of ways:

  • Blood Flow: Cold temperatures cause blood to be diverted to the body core (chest and abdomen) and so there is reduced blood flow to muscles (stiffness).
  • Activity: People are generally less active in cold weather, thus joints and muscles get less blood flow. Blood flow brings nutrients to tissues and clears away toxins.
  • Hormones: In cold weather, the thyroid gland has to step up and do more work to keep the body temperature up. As we age, we have less reserve in the thyroid gland, and so we will run colder. This is why, in part, many elderly people keep the heat in their homes, turned up so high.
  • Immune System: In cold weather, we are more likely to gain weight, because we eat more carbohydrates (comfort foods) and fats. Very often, because much of the immune system surrounds the GI tract, this poor diet causes a general state of inflammation in the body, activating certain chemicals in the body. Low levels of Vitamin D (very common) are associated with immune system dysfunction.
  • Cloudy and short days: Some people develop what is commonly known as "Seasonal Depression". Depression is very closely associated with chronic pain. Studies show that people with Rheumatoid arthritis are much more likely to have depression.

As a result of seeing these problems in patients (and myself) I looked for non-medicinal solutions and found a combination of herbs that helped me:

  • The Boswellia, horsetail, and stinging nettle work in combination to balance the immune system. Together they reduce the release of molecules (cytokines, MMP's), which cause pain, excessive inflammation, and tissue breakdown. They do this by stabilizing two key molecules, the Grand Central Stations of inflammation: TNF-Alpha and NF-Kappa B.
  • Celery removes excess water from tissues
  • Garlic prevents immune system suppression, allowing a normal immune response.

What to do about the weather's negative affects on the body: Eat a healthy diet (no wheat, dairy, eggs, sugar or other foods you are allergic to) for one week. You can try the herbs listed above as well. Power Tip: Writing down what you eat and how you feel is 100 percent more powerful in following the guidelines than trying to track your food and mood in your mind.