Ask Ellen: Are the weather and body aches related?

Ask Ellen

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Some say they can tell a storm is coming when their body starts to ache. Sometimes it’s an old injury, sometimes its a bum knee and sometimes its a raging headache.

So are these connections between weather and body aches real or is it all in our heads? That’s what Cheryl from Schoolcraft asked as our viewer question for this week’s “Ask Ellen.”

Scientists across the globe have worked to answer this question for years. Up until recently, it was fairly well accepted that there was a direct influence between weather changes and how some of our bodies can feel. But a recent study by the George Institute for Global Health said no.

The study tracked the reported health of nearly 1,000 people with variations in the weather. The results showed there was no relation between changes in temperature, pressure, humidity, wind direction or precipitation and lower back pain.

Researchers note that it is possible people are more prone to noticing their body aches when it is gloomy out because they are stuck inside.

Still, several smaller studies have been done in years before that do point to connections between weather changes and physical conditions. Many of these suggest there is a connection between shifts in conditions and how people may feel.

While not all changes in the weather may be triggers for pain, some may be.

Barometric pressure changes are theorized to have an impact on joint and arthritis pain. The air is constantly exerting pressure on us at all time. During areas of higher pressure, more pressure is being exerted on surface object.

During areas of low pressure, less pressure is being exerted on us by the air.

While many of us may not physically notice the difference between even the biggest pressure shifts, this could have an impact on the ligaments and muscles in the body. The change in pressure could allow ligaments and muscles to expand and contract, which would cause pain.

Those with arthritis are potentially the most susceptible.

Cold temperatures have also been theorized to be linked to join pain, as the colder temperatures could make it more difficult for joints to move.

As for headaches, many react to subtle changes in pollen in the air during the spring. Abrupt pressure changes generate wind, which can spread minuscule pollen particles more easily. Often, people can experience headaches without realizing pollen is the culprit.

So while the most recent and largest study says that weather does not impact the body physically and that most attributions to pain are purely psychological, I am inclined to say we need more studies done to flesh this out more.

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