So, maybe Grandma was right after all -- we really can feel the weather in our bones:
Scientists don't understand all the mechanisms involved in weather-related pain, but one leading theory holds that the falling barometric pressure that frequently precedes a storm alters the pressure inside joints. Those connections between bones, held together with tendons and ligaments, are surrounded and cushioned by sacs of fluid and trapped gasses.
"Think of a balloon that has as much air pressure on the outside pushing in as on the inside pushing out," says Robert Jamison, a professor of anesthesia and psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. As the outside pressure drops, the balloon—or joint—expands, pressing against surrounding nerves and other tissues. "That's probably the effect that people are feeling, particularly if those nerves are irritated in the first place," Dr. Jamison says.
After I had a broken hip in a car accident in 1983, followed by an operation to put a pin in a floating bone chip, I swear my hip would start hurting before a rain storm, even if it was sunny outside and no sign of coming bad weather was evident. I never talked about it much because it seemed like one of those old folk beliefs we're supposed to give up as we get savvy to the science. Now, the predictive pain has more or less gone away, and I have to say I miss it. Guess it's the journalist in me -- always wanting to be among the first to know something.
Pierre, the cat I had before Dutch and Maggie, was a pretty good storm predictor, too. Anytime he went halfway down the basement steps and sat huddled and shivering, I knew it was probably going to rain within the hour. More often than not, it did. Hell, he was more accurate than the TV meteorologists. Cuter than most of them, too.