The Human Barometer


By Brian Neudorff

Twin Falls, ID (KMVT-TV / KSVT-TV) Predicting the weather isn't easy, but for Twin Falls residence Rick Carrico, sensing impending weather changes comes from within.

“Day or two before I could hardly move, I was miserable, I told my wife, I said I don’t know what it is, I don’t know what’s coming, I don’t know how severe it’s gonna be but I’m betting this one’s going to be significant.” Rick’s pain was associated with the strong damaging winds of the March 17, 2014 wind storm across the Magic Valley.

This leads to the question, just how accurate are these weather forecasts? Can pain in ones finger and knee mean we will see a nasty storm?

Bryan Wright, Doctor of Physical Therapy at Wright Physical Therapy points out, “I’ve seen complete support to the theory that weather can be predicted by people, I’ll give you some examples. When I first started as a physical therapist we had a number of patience come in during rainy or snowy days and consistently be the worst day of my week.”

There is a field of study called human biometeorology and it finds that most aches and pains in the joints are felt with changes in the barometric pressure.

“The reason we can explain that is because there are mechanoreceptors inside of the joints or inside of our bodies,” points out Wright. “Those mechanoreceptors are very very sensitive to changes in mechanics, pressure. So if I push my hand I can feel pressure. Somebody who has joint systems that are altered through arthritis, inflammation or an injury that occurred and has scar tissue, those mechanoreceptors don’t function the same as normal tissue. Therefore when slight pressure changes can drop in the exterior environment, in other words weather, when rain or snow and the pressure drops that little bit of increase in pressure in the joints can be sensed as pain.”

While we won’t be giving up our computer models to predict the weather any time soon, the human body can sense weather changes and really is a human barometer.

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