May 7


Weather or Not: Fibromyalgia Under Pressure

By Sue Ingebretson

May 7, 2013

allergies, barometric, fatigue, fibromyalgia, flares, gauge, groundhog, migraine, pain, pressure, sinus, symptoms, symptoms flares, weather




Do you experience INCREASED fibromyalgia (and/or other chronic) symptoms with seasonal changes?

For most of us — yes, symptoms do increase.

But … which ones?

Some of you tell me that fatigue flares to unbearable levels during the heat – especially if there’s high humidity to boot. Some say their symptoms of pain are overwhelming when cold frigid winds blow. And, symptoms such as migraines, sinus pain, and allergic tendencies can increase during stormy and unpredictable weather.

Of course, there’s also the flurry of symptoms that increase right before a significant weather change. Most of us have experienced that type of flare. We really are sensitive beings, aren’t we?

To read more about being a “sensitive type,” read this post about my Tuning Fork Analogy.

Some of us feel as if we could hire ourselves out as weather forecasters or gauges. It makes sense! We’re surely more accurate than a groundhog, right? (I’ll have to do some research about Punxsutawney Phil’s annual salary….) We surely can predict rain, wind, heat, or significant change by the accompanying pain and fatigue in various parts of the body. For some, the physical impact centers around areas of former injury (broken bones, torn muscles/ligaments/tendons, etc.). For others, it centers around areas of consistent pain such as particular joints, sinuses, or an overall generalized overwhelming fatigue.

In studying the correlation between symptoms and the weather, we need to fine-tune the question. We should ask, WHAT symptoms change and WHEN do they change?

For me, change is the operative word. Even though my symptoms are now very minor (for which I’m very grateful), I still pay attention to the slightest physical twinge. I’m aware of incoming weather fronts because my symptoms CHANGE when the weather is about to CHANGE. It’s more than the temperature, precipitation, wind, and humidity levels. For me, a barometric pressure change can be felt throughout the body. The bigger the weather change, the bigger the symptoms change.

Do barometric pressure changes affect you? If so, where do you feel it first, and for how long? Can you mitigate changes by taking preventative action such as increasing certain supplements, drinking more water, and getting regular exercise?

I can’t wait to hear what you think! Jot down your weather-related experiences below…


  1. Hi Sue,
    I figured out that I was a human barometer a few winters back. In New England that year, we had literally a storm each week for 5 or 6 weeks, usually on a Wednesday or Thursday. By Tuesday or Wednesday, my entire body just ached much more than normal, plus the cold doesn’t help much either. After the storm had passed, I was feeling a bit better. It took about 4 weeks to see the pattern. Not I am MUCH more attuned to the weather reports, especially the ones that are several days out & when we can see fronts moving in from the central or southern parts of the country.

    Great party trick! Don’t try this at home folks, we’re professionals 🙂

    1. Thanks for the fun response, Theresa! I think we can all relate, but the extent of the talent does vary….

  2. I am my own weather barometer! The barometric pressure can change ever so slightly and I’ll hurt every where, get a migraine, and feel like I’m dragging myself every where I go. The greater the change in pressure the more intense the pain.

    Yeah fibro, you made me a weather woman. Now take it back!

  3. I’m on day four of a flare up caused by weather. It’s changes in the pressure in the air that get me. Rain increases my pain. Thunderstorms or storms in general REALLY increase my pain. I used to love rainy days. Now I hate them. Even my heavy duty, emergency only pain meds don’t do much for weather related flares. My skull feels like it’s being crushed by the pressure in the air and all the bones are grinding together. My only respite comes in sleep or meditation, if I can manage them under the conditions. We’ve had a lot of rain the last few weeks here. I’m in dire need of a streak of sunny days!

    1. Makes me feel better to see I am not the only one who can’t get relief from strong drugs on bad weather days. Also makes me feel better to see that the bad days from weather changes is not all in my head.

    2. I could have written this myself!!! Intense pain in my feet, legs, hips, hands & arms. (previous injuries include broken bones in both feet & toes, torn tendon in hip & torn ligament in elbow) although my pain is bilateral even in uninjured areas. Up to several days before a storm, i’m in severe pain. I too think it’s the change in barometric pressure that affects me as well as the cold weather. It has worsened as I’ve gotten older. I have always loved the rain & thunderstorms. It’s just too bad i can’t enjoy them anymore because I’m in so much pain. What can we do about it? Any answers?

    3. It makes me feel better to know I’m not alone in experiencing weather related pain. I have intense pain in my feet, legs, hips, hands & arms. (previous injuries include broken bones in both feet & toes, torn tendon in hip & torn ligament in elbow) although my pain is bilateral even in uninjured areas. Up to several days before a storm, i’m in severe pain. I too think it’s the change in barometric pressure that affects me as well as the cold weather. It has worsened as I’ve gotten older. I have always loved the rain & thunderstorms. It’s just too bad i can’t enjoy them anymore because I’m in so much pain. What can we do about it? Any answers?

      1. Laura — you’re definitely not alone. Most of us feel an increase in symptoms with weather changes including barometric pressure changes. And yes, there’s LOTS you can do! The best way to mitigate symptom flares (from any cause) is to diminish your pain triggers at the root. Meaning – find out where the root causes of your problems come from, and address them one by one. For many of us, the start of this process begins with looking at foods to which we’ve developed sensitivities. Of course, stress is a huge factor as well, but the great news is that when we begin to address these issues, we can greatly diminish our symptoms. Feel free to read the over 200 posts on this site that are all geared to share helpful, encouraging, and healing information. Welcome to the Rebuilding Wellness community!

  4. I’ve been in Nebraska for about 12 years now, I moved from Texas for a change. The weather changes have been tolerable… until this past winter. The pain has gotten worse since I “retired” 5 years ago. I guess since I was working during the winters I wasn’t paying attention. Now that I don’t have to get up and go to work I am more attune to my body, listening more closely. This past winter I hurt awful it seems like, praying for a little heat! I have noticed the change to Spring (or the lack thereof!!) as I have been paying closer attention. Today is the first day in forever that my head doesn’t hurt. Also, I have notice the pain in my hands and wrist (arthritis) and my clavicle (fibro) is really bad during the cold. Of course my knees hurt regardless due to osteoarthritis. But I get up every morning, dress and face a new day, one foot in front of the other!

    1. Molly – Wow — moved TO Nebraska? It’s usually the other way around! Thanks so much for sharing your experiences!

  5. I am a human barometer. I’ve also discovered that intensive solar flares also affect my fibro symptoms and trigger migraines. Cold = PAIN, Heat/Humidity = FATIGUE. Just to name a few.

  6. I didn’t really understand all the “weather” stuff until I researched so much about fibro. Mine usually starts as that brain fog feeling, then the fatigue, then the pain, headaches, etc. Now I try to really really listen to my body every day. When I feel the “change” coming I up my water intake, my supplements of Vitamin D, Evening Primrose Oil, Claritin and especially my Probiotics. I’ve found if I can keep my gut working well that makes me stronger to fight off the flares. Sometimes it still gets the best of me and I just have to rest rest rest as much as I can. Which is hard since I’m a single mom of two teenagers. Of course they are big enough to help out and do a good job.

  7. When the barometric pressure drops my fibromyalgia pain gets much worse. I can tell even a day before a storm front comes through this area. One year my son’s cycling team was going out to western Md. for a long weekend to train. They thought they wouldn’t need the skis but I said it would. 45 min later they hit snow! They said Mike’s Mom is good!

  8. Haven’t had a severe flair in many years now (10). However, the past few weeks with the roller coaster temps and damp rainy weather we have been experiencing, I have had some severe aching going on.I am from the N.E. area originally but have lived in W. PA. for 10 yrs and then moved to Roanoke, Va. ten years ago. Climate here is pretty moderate and that has helped. Travel to N.E. in the summer usually to visit family and stay several weeks. Nothing bothered me until this year. I was in N.E. (MA.) the second to last week in April and they had cool damp weather and some nice days almost the same as here in Roanoke. Roller coaster temps with the damp rainy weather does it for me. I manage by moving and using some yoga stretching (mild). I am 64 yrs. old. and movement is key to helping me manage and keeping a positive outlook. Love your book Why Fibro-it was the most helpful and made the most sense out of all the books out there. Your website is also wonderful and helpful. Thank you.

    1. Nancy- thanks so much for your kind response! It always feels marvy to know that someone actually values what I have to say and can relate 😉

  9. I live in El Paso, TX & I do sense weather changes, even if the storms miss our area. We get a lot of highs & lows of pressure & temperature, dust storms, and very little rain. Allergies are much worse this year, more pain that lasts longer. I do take vitamin D & make sure I get out in the sun 15 minutes a day. Must watch my intake of sodium, nitrates and prepared foods. I have always been sensitive to MSG. I am highly sensitive/allergic to aspartame, as well. People are surprised when I tell them what foods & snacks contain aspartame.

    1. Cathy — good for you! You’ve not only educated yourself on these primary (and extremely important) factors, but you’re sharing your knowledge with others. MSG and Aspartame are two consistent, problematic ingredients for most (if not all) of those dealing with fibromyalgia and chronic illness. As excitotoxins, they’re quite toxic to us. It’s important to know that these ingredients are in many, many processed and restaurant foods — even when they say they are not. Just as with barometric pressure, however, our bodies KNOW when these elements are present!

  10. I can say “It’s going to rain tomorrow,” during a flare because the flares usually come the day before a low pressure system. I live on LI and the weather can be weird here sometimes. It could be 65°F and sunny one day in April and 38°F the next day and those knock me down for the count.

    1. Alexandra — from the comments here. it’s nice to see you’re in good company!

  11. Heck yes, Im a seasonal barometer, the moment early autumn lands in the UK I decline to the point of been house bound until April. The through out the summer I fluctuate depending on dampness and storm clouds, so on sunny days Im alert and ok and on wet days I cant stay awake and hurt all over to the point of going to bed all day feeling like I have a triple dose of the flu

    1. Jacky — it sounds like your weather changes are pretty extreme – dampness definitely has a more profound affect on how we feel. Thanks for sharing!

  12. I am bothered in the colder weather. Humidity and heat does not bother me at all except I sweat alot..I always have. I know when a storm or rain or snow is coming. The pain is worse and I get more exausted and sleep alot more. When the baramoter is going up is the worst!!

  13. I noticed for many years prior to being diagnosed with Fibro that my pain was heavily affected by the weather. My pain would come with barometric pressure changes and I would usually feel better once the rain/snow would start. Most of the pain was in my thighs and head/neck. As I’ve gotten older the pain has spread to most of the body. Some meds are giving some relief but there are times when I hurt so bad I can barely walk.

    1. Pat — thanks so much for your input. It’s important for others to read experiences that are similar to theirs.

    2. Pat I just want you to know you definitely are not alone. I was the same way before diagnosed. It’s horrible when the pain is so bad I can’t walk. I haven’t found anything to relieve that pain yet. Not only weather causes a flare but also if I do too much activity sometimes I’m down for a couple days. My family thinks its funny because I know when its going to rain or snow.

  14. Definately effected by cold, damp weather. I get bad headaches with barometric changes and winter is hell for me. Winter has got to be the absolute worse, mostly because we live in Northern Wisconsin and this winter was a BAD one!

    1. Maria – I’ve heard all about this awful winter. I’m so sorry that it’s affected you. I know that I don’t tolerate cold as I used to. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Soooo good to read all this! I’m in the UK… enough said, haha!! With all the jokes/complaints about the weather over here, I sometimes end up thinking I’m imagining the link between the weather and my symptoms. Having read all these responses, I think I’ll trust myself more often now – thanks, everyone! 🙂

  16. I just figured out that the correlation between my pain and the barometric pressure changes is legit! I found and they have historical weather readings. The higher readings (changes) all occurred on my worst days. I love that this site/app also has future forecasts, which can help me plan my days. For example, I saw that there was a change coming this weekend, and sure enough, I am in tons of pain today. So excited about this newest revelation!

    1. I’m glad this makes sense to you, Amanda! It’s always great when pieces of our health puzzle falls into place.

  17. My pain is much worse when the barometric pressure falls or there are big changes in the weather. I am glad to hear that I am not the only person whose pain is related to the barometric pressure. I have visited many cities in the U.S, Canada and Europe. The only city where my pain was not bad was Phoenix, AZ. Wondering if anyone else has had a similar experience.

    1. Mary – so many others have expressed similar experiences – both here and on the discussions on facebook. You’re not alone! I’ll put out this question, specifically on facebook and we’ll see what conversations we get. Thanks for chiming in! You can locate that page here:

    2. I absolutely feel the same. Hell in BC in winter but way better in Mesa AZ in the same time of year , when I can get there that is?

      1. Thanks Mary – you belong to the same club as the rest of us! I’m so glad you’ve found a place that works for you. Now … just to get you there 😉

  18. Yep, I am a human barometer too. It has gotten to the point at work where my boss will ask if my migraine means it will rain the next day. I get a stronger pain on the right side of my head when storms are coming. Regular migraines hurt on both sides. It’s a neat party trick.
    In general, I don’t do we’ll in hot, humid weather, so life really stinks in the summer since I live in VA. Brain fog, fatigue, achyness, irritability, all get amplified. In the winter, I get more pain than I do in the summer, but I can usually handle it better because I am not battling the heat. It’s easier for me to add layers to warm up, than it is to try to cool down.

    1. Janie — thanks for your input. We’re each so different, but we do have the similarities in dealing with weather changes. I love your sense of humor and your philosophies on your “party trick” migraines! I don’t happen to do well in humidity either, but I much prefer heat to cold temps. Because I no longer have much pain, my weather change effects usually tend toward an overall achy feeling and/or headaches and sinus pressure.

  19. The higher the winds blow, the more I ache – always. In spring and fall with front after front blowing through, I’m absolutely miserable. When the weather is stable, I’m much better.

    1. Thanks for your input, John! I agree — the weather definitely DOES have impact on how I feel.

  20. Hi Sue,
    I am still trying to figure this all out. Yes, weather affects the fibro in my body but we have such wacky weather here in Alberta, Canada that it varies my reactions so much. Felt great yesterday as it was beautiful here but changing today and I am hurting. Headache since last night. Sore back. Sore hands, etc. I did notice in 2012 when we went to Hawaii, that I felt better than I had in years but feet and hands started swelling on the plane as we got closer to home. The positive effects were gone within hours of landing home in March, yuck. So was it the weather there or just because of lower stress? In 2010, Vegas in September didn’t make much difference at all. Long story short, weather affects me but the precise changes in weather are yet to be connected with precise changes in my body. Thanks for letting me put this all in print as it has helped me to think it through a bit more.

    1. Candace — so glad that you joined the conversation! It’s important to note how different we all are. We not only feel things differently, our bodies interpret the information it receives differently. Each weather pattern brings more than just precipitation or wind, etc. There’s also the barometric pressure change, temp change, humidity change, and much more. The bottom line is that our bodies are SUPER-tuned to change! As you mentioned, you’ve experienced weather changes on vacation, but then there are the factors of stress, travel, what’s left behind, what’s left to do when you return home, etc. It’s way too complicated to compare scientifically. We just can’t separate our emotions and experiences from our physical experiences. We can, however, begin to pay attention to it all and notice times of improvement. (I’d focus on that more than the higher-pain times.) When we feel better, then we can analyze what was different before we started to feel better and see if we can put that into practice. It doesn’t always apply simplistically, but it’s a step in the right direction. Again — thanks for your well-thought input!

  21. I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia for 3 years now. It has taken me a while to realize how
    weather can affect me so drastically. I live in TN and my family and I are now seriously considering moving to a place where the weather is more stable. During the winter I have overwhelming fatigue. I feel down right useless to my kids and husband. It’s not that I necessarily need to sleep. It’s more like my body
    is so tired that getting into the shower, brushing my teeth, getting a glass of water, or even having a conversation takes so much effort that it becomes painful. No one understands this type of fatigue except others with similar disorders. My arthritis is always at its worse during the winter as well. I’m very intolerant to the cold and run a low grade fever almost on a daily basis.
    Now, I had a couple of good months where I felt normal again until the springtime thunderstorms started. A few hours right up until the clouds breaks loose I have such deep muscle pain that I have broken into to tears. My arms and legs become restless, my neck and back will cramp up, and most alarmingly I fall. I drop things, I fall, I forget what I’m doing, forget what I’m talking about mid conversation. I look like a battered wife! But with these thunderstorms, even my 13 year old son won’t let me use the stairs or carry anything breakable without assistance. Our dinner has ended up on the floor quite a few times. I also get a sinus headache aling with what would pass as allergies even though I’m not allergic to anything.
    I felt quite silly that it was my husband who had to point out the difference. So now we are looking to move to where I might have a chance at a better life.
    Any suggestions? Please?

    1. Tamela — thanks for your helpful perspective on your own physical issues related to the weather. As you can see here, we all react differently. Fibromyalgia makes us all super-reactive. Some of us react more to some things than others.

      As for deciding where to live, it’s important to look back on what affects YOU the most. Some can’t stand the heat. Some can’t stand the cold. Some can’t stand the wide fluctuations of weather changes. I live in Southern California, and I find visiting the Midwest in the winter to be almost unbearable. But, that’s me. I know that some cities like San Diego, CA boast a very even temperature most of the year. I happen to love Hawaii, too, even considering the higher humidity. On the flip side, I’ve known fibrofolk who feel much better in drier climates such as Arizona.

      I don’t know where you live, and I wouldn’t presume to know what’s best for you. In addition to assessing your current environment, you may consider vacationing here or there to help determine what climates suit you best. Although, keep in mind that a vacation oftentimes results in an improvement of symptoms simply because it IS a vacation. Things change once “life” catches up to you no matter where you are.

      I wish you the absolute best and I’d love to hear more about your decisions!

  22. I love this post as I truly thought I was nuts. I havr had fibro for 7 years and always felt worse during weather events. I’ve been down for the count for the past week due to high humidity, cooler temps, and rain. Concerned the winter will be unbearable since the summer has been so mild.

    I’m bound to my home state of NC right now but have considered moving to AZ at a later date. Seems like humidity is a big deal as is extreme weather fluctuations. As they say here, if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute and it will change.

    Hope all have a lower pain day today.

    1. Heather — thanks so much for your great input. Isn’t it nice to know you’re in good company? I’m so glad that you’ve found a “home” here. I also want to point out that oftentimes, the comments have equal (or maybe more!) value to the post. So, I hope you read everyone’s input here — including your own. Thanks again!

  23. Thank you. This has been somewhat comforting to see so many people dealing with the same symptoms. I am 40 and going to a local lupus dr for the first time in a couple of weeks. My mother has lupus. I am getting my first hip replacement next month, and have endured 5 other major joint surgeries from 12 years as a fire fighter. The barometric pressure is crippling, when it is low. Thank you for the insight. I have just started to research in the last few weeks. It is eye opening and makes perfect sense. You think this stuff is in your head, and then you find out that something is causing all of this misery.

    1. Nathan, it’s comforting to know that you’re in good company. Please know that others here feel just as you do. Please stick around and continue to participate here. That’s how we can build a strong community of support!

  24. Hi! I live in southern California in Orange County and the weather here is fairly stable, don’t have a ton of climate change usually. However, my mom (who has suffered with fibro for 20 years) and i always joke that we should be weather people cuz our bodies predict even the slightest change in weather. I am 20 years old (my mom got fibro from my birth, trauma trigger.?), and i am a Massage Therapist. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia over a year ago just after i started working 40 hours a week doing massages in a Chiropractor office. I think the over exertion of my body plus new unfamiliar stress, mentally and physically, caused my trigger to having fibromyalgia. Which is ironic considering the whole reason i became a massage therapist was because my mom had bad fibromyalgia when i was growing up and i would massage and do trigger point on her during flares. I got good at it, i helped her quite a bit, and it made me want to help others, but now I HAVE IT TOO. So that complicates things, but i push through best i can. Anyway, i really appreciate posts like this for insight as well as comfort that I’m not crazy or the only one, though my mom understands since we get the same pain on the same days. Other people just don’t get it, and sometimes i show my friends posts like this to help them understand what I’m dealing with. So thank you! And today is a very windy day that came outta nowhere, and i had a migraine all day yesterday. Today i am bed ridden for the most part. Can hardly move. My body touching the bed hurts, aching all over, swollen/stiff joints, massive headache, etc. These Santa Ana winds suck! Still very thankful to live here of course, but i am currently miserable and on the verge of tears from the pain. This post and the comments have helped me a bit today. Though i wish i could clone myself so i could give myself a massage seeing that it is one of the best ways to deal with fibro. Darn, come on science! 😛


    1. Marissa — love your comment about cloning yourself! It would be great to be able to do the things for ourselves that we know help us to feel better — even when we don’t feel like doing them. You can definitely find good company here and we all have so much in common. It’s also interesting to see that we live in the same area. I have lots of friends here who are affected by the Santa Ana’s. They’re blowing today, too, and we tend to have symptoms show up in areas of personal sensitivity. My hips hurt today (very minor discomfort) whereas friends of mine tend toward migraines and sinus/facial pain. We’re each different, but the weather — and barometric pressure, in particular – definitely plays a role in the ebb and flow of the intensity of our symptoms!

  25. Hi No one believed me – typical story – I defiantly am affected by lower pressure systems and when a tropical storm is brewing well the “pain” starts a bunch of other “four” letter words as well. That’s the way I think of pain as a four letter word, that just is. Its no longer my body warning me of anything its just my body using a word I would have gotten my mouth washed out with soap for uttering.
    I also have Arachnoiditis as well as Fibro. and a few other lovely things. I live in the Tampa Bay Area of Florida and today is a rather lousy day. But I do 100 per cent know that we are feeling the pressure changes in a not so lovely of a way. I wish you all more better days then worse.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Karen! Like you said, we all can do with fewer worse days and an increase of better days. 😉

  26. A couple monhs ago here in the Great Northwest it was 90-105 degrees outside for a span of a week or so (worked up from 80 then down to 80 after heat wave). Anyway, my pain was so intense I thought I was going to die. My whole body throbbed a deep pain. I was diagnosed 7 years ago and have never felt like that before. I got blood tests done and they came back fine. Any thoughts?

    1. Jenifer – thanks for sharing! It’s hard to tell without a few more details, but we’re each able to tolerate different levels of heat (or cold). That’s awfully hot and where that might be “uncomfortable” for those without fibro, for you it was unbearable. Being under stress, feeling awful, and barometric pressure can all increase pain and that sounds like a triple threat. It was everything compounded all at once. I hope the pain diminished when the weather shifted. If the temps go up like that again, you may want to remind yourself of how bad it got for you and take preventative action. Sometimes we let things get too bad before we try remedies. There are a lot of ways to try and stay cool and maybe you need to experiment with several so you don’t find yourself in that position again. And, thanks for letting us know how it affected you.

  27. I have a spinal cord injury, and suffer from chronic pain. It has been 8 years. For the first 5, I lived in Sacramento. The pain was constant but tolerable. Three years ago I moved to Phoenix, as many comment on the dry warm air, and lack of storms would be good. Although Phoenix does not have big swings in air pressure like Chicago, I have found that my condition is much worse than in Sacramento. I started looking at the daily pressure readings, and to my surprise Phoenix has a high level of daily fluctuations that peak in the mid morning and nosedive to around 5 in the afternoon. It is during this period that my pain is at its worst. Any rapid pressure change is bad, but higher to lower is worse for me. Around 7 or 8 I start to feel better. I looked up the cities with the least daily fluctuation- besides Hawaii, southern cal is the least. Even South Florida provides some relief. It appears that tropical trade winds can keep the pressure moving along. Has anybody else experienced this daily change in the pressure to affect them?

    1. Jerry — how fascinating! I applaud your tenacity to monitor the barometric pressure changes and see how they apply to your symptoms. I’m in SoCal and I’ve noticed that I feel worse in the Midwest when I go there to visit. I’m glad you’ve given this food for thought. I wasn’t aware of the fluctuations in AZ. Do you feel increased symptoms mainly near your point of injury or all over? I look forward to seeing what others have to say, here.

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