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Can Cold Weather Cause Back Pain?

An illustration depicting a person in a winter environment experiencing back pain. The individual is dressed in warm winter clothes, clutching their lower back in a gesture of discomfort. The background features a snowy landscape, representing a typical cold climate. The image visually conveys the concept that cold weather might contribute to back pain, resonating with the subject of the article. The design is clear, visually appealing, and informative, emphasizing the potential link between cold weather and back pain in an empathetic and educational manner.

In my practice in Norwalk, CT, I often encounter patients who believe their back pain worsens with cold or rainy weather. This belief isn’t uncommon; many people claim to feel more pain or predict storms based on their joint discomfort. This phenomenon raises the question: Is there a scientific basis to the idea that weather can exacerbate back pain?

What the Science says

I found two studies published in 2017 that asked if weather can cause back pain. One, from Australia, looked at six different weather events, and found that it did not cause acute back pain. Another, published in the British Medical Journal, looked at Medicare patients in America and tried to link rainfall to doctor visits. They also did not find a relationship here. The first study looked at whether the weather caused new back pain. The second asked whether someone visited the doctor in some relation to a rain event.

A study from 2016, looked at a group of people with knee arthritis. They asked them to report when they had a flare up of pain. Then they tried to see if those flare ups were related to temperature or barometric pressure.  In this case, they did not find a link to the weather. I like the way this study asked the question, and it surprised me to see no weather link found here.

Very interesting results were found by a large study conducted in various European countries that asked people to report whether they were sensitive to weather or not. In the group that said weather affected their pain, they did find a link to weather changes. Surprisingly, people in the more northern countries, like Sweden, were less affected by the cold and damp than were those from Spain and Italy.  This suggests that it is the change in weather that affects some individuals, not just the cold and rainy weather in general.  This study seems to reject the notion than move to warmer climes will help. The change in weather phenomenon was also found in this study in 2011 that found a link between atmospheric pressure and hip arthritis pain.

Finally, this 2007 study, from the American Medical Journal, found a connection between knee arthritis and barometric pressure.

Interpreting the Studies

While some studies show no direct link between weather and joint pain, others suggest that certain individuals might be more sensitive to weather changes. For example, a large European study found that people who believed weather affected their pain did indeed show a correlation, particularly in countries with more variable climates. This suggests that it might not be the cold or dampness per se, but the change in weather that triggers pain in sensitive individuals.

Interestingly, residents of warmer countries seemed more affected by weather changes than those in colder regions like Sweden. This finding challenges the common notion that moving to a warmer climate can alleviate pain. It appears that what matters more is the change in weather rather than the type of weather itself.

Weather and Arthritis

The connection between weather and pain seems to be more pronounced in individuals with arthritis. Arthritis involves the wearing down of joint cartilage, and changes in atmospheric pressure might affect the pressure within these joints. This fluctuation could explain why some people experience more pain during weather changes and seemingly ‘predict’ the weather based on their discomfort.

As a chiropractor, I believe chiropractic treatment is highly effective for managing arthritis and back pain. Regular adjustments can ensure proper joint movement, maintaining lubrication and reducing pain. During flare-ups, a heat pack can provide relief.

However, it’s important to accurately diagnose the cause of back pain, as heat may worsen pain stemming from an injury. If you’re uncertain whether your pain is due to arthritis or another condition, getting a professional diagnosis is crucial.


The relationship between weather and back pain is complex and varies from person to person. While the weather may not directly cause new back pain, it can certainly aggravate existing conditions like arthritis in some individuals. For those in Norwalk, CT, and surrounding areas experiencing weather-related pain, chiropractic care might offer significant relief.

Need Assistance?

If you’re struggling with back pain and think it might be related to the weather or arthritis, don’t hesitate to contact us at Thomas French, DC – Chiropractor. We can assist with diagnosis and provide effective treatment options tailored to your needs. Click below to schedule an appointment and find relief from your weather-related back pain.