Working at Affiliated Foot and Ankle Center Physical Therapy Center I have noticed an increase of complaints of pain when the pressure decreases. Patients would describe the pain as an ache or soreness in their joints. The majority of the complaints came from the patients who are recovering from surgery.
Is there a correlation with the air pressure changes and the pain we feel in our joints? Recent studies have shown the air pressure, also called barometric pressure, affects our joints and increases pain. This is particularly true for the certain population groups including the elderly, people with chronic illnesses such as arthritis, and women and children.
Barometric pressure often drops before bad weather sets in. This lower air pressure pushes less against the body, allowing tissues to expand and those expanded tissues can put pressure on the joint. Our bodies have receptors and they are sensitive to the change in pressure.
Furthermore, when people have chronic pain, sometimes nerves can become more sensitized because of injury, inflammation, scarring, or adhesions.
The nerve receptors are hypersensitive, and they just keep firing, based on what you do or not for any reason at all. But if there’s some expansion internally in other words, the body can either expand or contract based on outside pressure changes then that’s going to affect how pain is signaled.
At higher altitudes, there’s less barometric pressure and our bodies react accordingly. When there’s less pressure, we expand. For example 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.
Should you move to Florida or Arizona? It’s a question that I hear numerous times from my arthritis patients. People with chronic pain, if they can’t get out as much and it’s so cold all the time or rainy or snowy then they think they would like to go some place where the weather isn’t quite so dramatic. My answer to this question: your pain will travel with you, no matter where you live.