Is it true there is a link between osteoarthritis and weather or is this a myth?
Most of my clients over the years have said there is but personally I have never noticed I am particularly bad in damp or cold weather or much better in the warmer weather. Although I do remember one elderly lady who always said the complete opposite about her osteoarthritis and weather changes- the colder the better for her!
However maybe I am wrong as when I looked into this I found some research that suggests there is a link between increased joint pain of osteoarthritis and weather changes. The study was done in 2007 and the researchers were clever in the design of the study. Rather asking people whether they felt there was a link between their osteoarthritis and weather conditions they simple asked people to rate their pain each day and then compared their pain from their knee osteoarthritis and weather conditions for that day.
Methods: We performed a longitudinal analysis of pain reports from a 3-month clinical trial among individuals with knee osteoarthritis dispersed across the United States. Daily values for temperature, barometric pressure, dew point, precipitation, and relative humidity were obtained from the weather station closest to each participant.
They used 200 test subjects and the results showed there was a link between osteoarthritis and weather.
Changes in barometric pressure and ambient temperature are independently associated with osteoarthritis knee pain severity
Hypothetical links between osteoarthritis and weather
These are my theories:
1. The change in pressure alters the pressure inside the joint. It has been shown that pressure inside a joint equalizes itself to air pressure. (As an aside is this why flying makes many people feel so bad and it’s not just the cramped conditions causing us to stiffen up?).
2. Ambient temperature affects blood flow around the body. When it is cold blood is diverted away from our limbs to our torso and head to keep our vital organs warm. Less blood will affect our muscles, so making our joints even stiffer and so more painful.
3. Cold affects our nerve endings, making us more sensitive to the pain in a painful joint.
4. The psychological effect. Bad weather makes us miserable. When we are miserable there is a psychosomatic reflex (brain to muscle as psychosomatic doesn’t mean put on and you can see a fuller explanation at this nothing to do with osteoarthritis and weather article!)
As I said at the start a change in weather doesn’t seem to affect me. Maybe I am not sensitive type? Do you think there is a link between osteoarthritis and weather changes? Perhaps some joints are more affected?
Is your osteoarthritis and weather linked? If they are which joint(s) are affected worst? Leave a comment below and tell us what affects you.