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Q: For Pinkfreud: Can weather variations affect arthritic pain? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   8 Comments )
Subject: For Pinkfreud: Can weather variations affect arthritic pain?
Category: Health > Conditions and Diseases
Asked by: knowitall22-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 28 Sep 2006 10:52 PDT
Expires: 28 Oct 2006 10:52 PDT
Question ID: 769253
Most persons, at any rate those who live in colder climates, have
heard claims that weather conditions can aggravate ailments. The
typical one familiar to me is that cold, damp weather causes arthritic
joint pains to worsen. Some sufferers move to hot, dry desert climates
seeking relief.
    Now, I am not belittling  or discounting such beliefs, but I ask:
Is there any proven, scientific validity to this belief?  The human
body, although  not a secure, closed environment, is certainly well
protected against many physical aberrations. Our bodies are stable, 
temperature controlled aqueous mechanisms. How could  relatively
slight temperature or humidity weather changes cause severe
discomfort, especially with those fortunate to live in heated
comfortable dwellings?

Request for Question Clarification by pinkfreud-ga on 28 Sep 2006 11:00 PDT
Howdy, knowitall22!

This is a great question, but I can't take it on immediately. I'll be
getting to it later today, if that's all right with you. I have some
medical appointments that will be keeping me busy for a while, but
I'll prepare an answer as soon as I am able.

Thanks for earmarking this for me. I have arthritis, and this should
be a very interesting research project!

Subject: Re: For Pinkfreud: Can weather variations affect arthritic pain?
Answered By: pinkfreud-ga on 28 Sep 2006 14:36 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
As an arthritis sufferer, I found this research project fascinating.
There have been several studies of arthritis and weather. I've
gathered some information for you from some of these studies.

Despite many patients' perception that arthritis symptoms seem to be
greatly affected by weather conditions, this is unproven. Some studies
show no significant correlation between weather and arthritis
symptoms, and in most studies that do show such a correlation, the
contribution of weather to symptoms such as pain and stiffness is
minimal. From what I have read, it appears that most rheumatologists
believe that if there is a connection between weather and arthritis,
it is much less significant than patients believe it to be.

"There is a widespread and strongly held belief that arthritis pain is
influenced by the weather; however, scientific studies have found no
consistent association. We hypothesize that this belief results, in
part at least, from people's tendency to perceive patterns where none
exist. We studied patients (n = 18) for more than 1 year and found no
statistically significant associations between their arthritis pain
and the weather conditions implicated by each individual. We also
found that college students (n = 97) tend to perceive correlations
between uncorrelated random sequences. This departure of people's
intuitive notion of association from the statistical concept of
association, we suggest, contributes to the belief that arthritis pain
is influenced by the weather."

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: On the belief that
arthritis pain is related to the weather 

"In a one month prospective, double blind study of 70 patients (35
with rheumatoid arthritis [RA], 35 with osteoarthritis [OA]), severity
of rheumatic symptoms was compared to changes in daily weather
conditions using a visual analogue scale. The majority of patients
(62%) believed that various aspects of weather aggravated their
symptoms. There was no difference in age, sex, diagnosis or perceived
symptom severity between weather sensitive and weather insensitive
patients. No significant correlation was found between symptoms of any
patient group or individual and any of 13 combinations of weather
features. These results suggest that contrary to the belief of the
majority of patients with RA or OA external weather conditions do not
significantly influence the day-to-day symptoms of arthritis."

Journal of Rheumatology: Weather and arthritis symptoms

"Despite the pervasiveness of the idea that arthritis is influenced by
the weather, scientific evidence on the matter is sparse and
non-conclusive. This study, conducted in the Australian inland city of
Bendigo, sought to establish a possible relationship between the pain
and rigidity of arthritis and the weather variables of temperature,
relative humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed and precipitation.
Pain and rigidity levels were scored by 25 participants with
osteoarthritis and/or rheumatoid arthritis four times per day for 1
month from each season. Mean pain and rigidity scores for each time of
each day were found to be correlated with the meteorological data.
Correlations between mean symptoms and temperature and relative
humidity were significant (P <0.001). Time of day was included in the
analysis. Stepwise multiple regression analysis indicated that
meteorological variables and time of day accounted for 38% of the
variance in mean pain and 20% of the variance in mean rigidity when
data of all months were considered. A post-study telephone
questionnaire indicated 92% of participants perceived their symptoms
to be influenced by the weather, while 48% claimed to be able to
predict the weather according to their symptoms. Hence, the results
suggest (1) decreased temperature is associated with both increased
pain and increased rigidity and (2) increased relative himidity is
associated with increased pain and rigidity in arthritis sufferers."

International Journal of Biometeorology: The association between
arthritis and the weather

"OBJECTIVE: To determine the self-reported prevalence of weather
sensitivity in a sample of female patients with rheumatoid arthritis
(RA), and to determine if there is objective evidence of associations
between weather and pain and stiffness in female patients with RA.
METHODS: Fifty-three female patients residing in the Sydney
metropolitan area participated in a study on the psychological
determinants of disability from 1985 to 1987. During the study,
subjects recorded pain on a visual analog scale and duration of
morning stiffness for 14 day periods at 3-4 monthly intervals over 1-3
years (X = 15.7 months). After completion of the study, data on
weather conditions were collected from the Bureau of Meteorology for
the days that pain and stiffness records were made. Descriptive
statistics and autoregression were used to analyze the data. RESULTS:
Sixty percent of subjects reported that they were sensitive to
weather. Six weather variables made a statistically significant
contribution to daily pain score (p < 0.0001). However, they accounted
for only 2.5% of the variance. Two weather variables contributed to
duration of morning stiffness (p < 0.0001), but again these variables
accounted for only a small portion of the variance (1.1%). A separate
analysis for pain was carried out on the data from subjects who
reported being weather sensitive. The results were consistent with
those of the other analyses, with 2 variables accounting for only 1.7%
of the variance (p < 0.0001). CONCLUSION: On the basis of these
results it appears that weather makes only a minimal contribution to
pain and stiffness in women with RA."

Journal of Rheumatology: The association between external weather
conditions and pain and stiffness in women with rheumatoid arthritis
Google search strategy:

"While the majority of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients report that
their pain is influenced by the weather, studies examining the impact
of weather on RA pain have yielded equivocal results. It is not clear
from the existing studies if the mixed results are due to limited
statistical power (e.g. small sample sizes and restricted variability
in weather indices) or the failure to consider individual differences.
The current study addressed these weaknesses by having 75 RA patients
(mean age = 52.7; 71% female) record their daily pain severity for 75
consecutive days. Objective weather indices including temperature,
barometric pressure, relative humidity, and percentage of sunlight
were obtained for the same dates from a local weather service. The
results indicate that for the entire sample, pain levels were highest
on cold, overcast days and following days with high barometric
pressure. Pain levels also increased as a function of change in
relative humidity from one day to the next. Individual difference
analyses revealed significant variability between patients in their
weather sensitivity patterns. In general, patients with higher levels
of self-reported pain demonstrated more weather sensitivity. When
considering the magnitude of these effects, however, weather variables
accounted for only a small amount of change in pain scores. This
pattern was true even for patients with the most pronounced
pain-weather relationships. Thus, although weather sensitivity was
found, the effect sizes were not clinically meaningful."

Pain Journal: Rheumatoid arthritis patients show weather sensitivity
in daily life, but the relationship is not clinically significant

"Various explanations have been given to account for the effects of
weather changes on pain... Certain physiologic factors associated with
changes in weather seem to impact persons with chronic pain. Because
tendons, muscles, bones, and scar tissue are of various densities,
cold and damp may expand or contract them in different ways. Sites of
microtrauma may also be sensitive to expansions and contractions due
to atmospheric changes. Changes in barometric pressure and temperature
may increase stiffness in the joints... Change in barometric pressure
may also cause a transient 'disequilibrium' in body pressure that may
sensitize nerve endings and account for increased pain preceding
changes in temperature or humidity. Finally, seasonal weather patterns
influence mood in some persons... and thereby indirectly affect pain
perception. Although weather sensitivity seems to be a multifactorial
phenomenon, the results of most studies suggest that exploring a
physiologic basis for weather-oriented changes in pain perception in
persons with chronic pain may be fruitful.

The common belief that pain is improved by living in a better climate
is not supported by the current literature, perhaps because the body
establishes an equilibrium to the local climate so that relative
changes in weather trigger an increase in pain regardless of the
actual weather. Pain patients living in a mild climate report
sensitivity to seasonal changes. Pain duration, pain intensity, pain
frequency, history of surgery, or pain site do not account for effect
of climatologic changes on pain. Differences in these factors between
weather-sensitive and non-weather-sensitive patients are not
consistent or useful in predicting group classification. Thus, local
climate has little influence on how patients perceive the effect of
weather on their pain...

There is much anecdotal but little empirical evidence for the effect
of weather changes on pain. Much of the literature consists of either
case studies or experimental investigations with few subjects and a
reliance on self-report measures. Laboratory studies to determine the
exact mechanism of action have been largely unsuccessful."

International Association for the Study of Pain: Influence of Weather
on Report of Pain

I obtained the best search results by using the Google Scholar
service. This ensured that anecdotal and pop-culture sources would be
kept to a minimum. A multitide of results from Google Scholar may be
found with these simple search strings:

Google Scholar: arthritis weather correlation

Google Scholar: arthritis "meteorological factors"

Thank you again for asking for me by name! It is always gratifying
when a former customer earmarks a question for my attention. If
anything is in need of clarification, please ask, and I'll gladly
offer further assistance.

Best regards,
knowitall22-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00
O great Goddess of the Google, as always, great response. On which
mountain top in OK do you dwell, that I may touch the hem of your

Subject: Re: For Pinkfreud: Can weather variations affect arthritic pain?
From: pinkfreud-ga on 28 Sep 2006 15:00 PDT
Wow, thanks for the kind words, the five stars, and the large tip!

Regarding the "mountain top in OK," I live a literal stone's throw
from the Arkansas River in the beautiful (but relatively flat) city of
Tulsa. Around here, what we call a mountain is what folks in Colorado
or Tennessee would call a speed bump. The nearest real mountains are
the Ozarks, and they are far, far from my stomping-grounds. Too many
stomps for me to enumerate.

In my case, garment-hem-touching isn't as easy as one might think.
Most of the time, I'm wearing a tee shirt and bike shorts, and if
anybody starts fiddling with my shorts, I'll usually smack 'em upside
the head and sic the dogs on 'em.

Subject: Re: For Pinkfreud: Can weather variations affect arthritic pain?
From: knowitall22-ga on 28 Sep 2006 15:49 PDT
I know OK is flat...just kidding. Also, not into garment-touching at my age.
knowitall22 AKA monroe22
Subject: Re: For Pinkfreud: Can weather variations affect arthritic pain?
From: knowitall22-ga on 28 Sep 2006 20:40 PDT
Perhaps some of the studies should have included arthritis sufferers
who have moved to dry desert climates. Have their symptoms improved? I
doubt it.
Subject: Re: For Pinkfreud: Can weather variations affect arthritic pain?
From: pinkfreud-ga on 28 Sep 2006 20:58 PDT
MONROE22???? You and this knowitall are the same person?

Goodness. The mind boggles. Next they will be telling me that Hayley
Mills isn't really twins.
Subject: Re: For Pinkfreud: Can weather variations affect arthritic pain?
From: probonopublico-ga on 28 Sep 2006 22:02 PDT
Hi Knowitall and Monroe

Great to see you both again!

From personal experience, I can tell you that arthritic pains can be
induced by cold weather.

I used to suffer from pains in the front of both thighs whenever it
was cold. I recall a trip on a canal boat one bitterly cold Easter.
When I started off I was OK but a few days later ... Wow!

At the time, I was unaware of the cause but when I mentioned this to
the doc, she did some tests and confirmed arthritis.

She then recommended Glucosamine with Chondritin which worked like
magic (but not immediately). I continue taking a daily dose.

The same stuff had helped Daisy previously.

So if you are a sufferer, do try!

As you know, I don't usually trust chemists but, this time, somebody
got something right ...

Probably a mistake! 

Best Wishes

Subject: Re: For Pinkfreud: Can weather variations affect arthritic pain?
From: probonopublico-ga on 28 Sep 2006 22:04 PDT
For Chondritin read Chondroitin ...
Subject: Re: For Pinkfreud: Can weather variations affect arthritic pain?
From: knowitall22-ga on 29 Sep 2006 08:25 PDT
Hi Pink:  Yes, knowitall and monroe are one person. The cause being
that I had a billing mixup which was adamant to resolution, so I
signed up for GA with another handle to return. Knowitall describes my
personality, while Monroe is the name of a cat pet, now deceased.
Subject: Re: For Pinkfreud: Can weather variations affect arthritic pain?
From: steph53-ga on 29 Sep 2006 16:41 PDT
Would that be like Kemlo and Probonopublico being the same person??

But I degress......that was entirely different question.


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