The Effects of Barometric Pressure on Joints & Muscles

Whether you are riding in an airplane, a fast-moving elevator, or witnessing a thunderstorm, you have likely noticed a sense of physical discomfort due to changes in barometric pressure. Barometers are instruments which are used to measure air pressure and predict weather patterns, particularly precipitation. Similarly, the joints and muscles in the body are surrounded by fluid, which can register changes in air pressure. Many of these physical effects are short-term and not serious.

Joints are surrounded by fluid which register changes in barometric pressure


Barometric pressure changes tend to precede the onset of wet weather, during which bodily tissues including muscles and bones adjust by expanding to varying degrees, notes Dr. Robert Jamison. Their abrupt expansion triggers the nerves, which send out pain signals, which leads to the sensation of pain in that area of the body.

Vascular Problems

As the bodily tissues expand, they may increase the pressure on vascular systems within the body. In 1997, the "British Journal of Neurosurgery" reported that researchers found during changes in barometric pressure, individuals experiencing cerebrovascular disease were more likely to sustain a brain hemorrhage.

Exacerbated Injuries

Barometric pressure changes can also aggravate inflamed joints or weak tissue such as surgical scars, notes Dr. Jamison. Among individuals prone to migraines, changes in barometric pressure may trigger the headache, notes the Mayo Clinic. Staying indoors during very cold or extremely windy weather may help mitigate the effects of the migraine, suggests the clinic.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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