Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) will say that a drop in the temperature brings an increase in their joint pain. A recent study now backs up that view. A researcher at the Institute of Rheumatology at Tokyo Women's Medical University, Japan, stated that "the differences in weather and climate are having an impact"on RA patients' levels of pain and discomfort.
The investigators collected data from 1800 RA patients between October 2001 and April 2004. The study participants' average age was 58 years, and they had suffered from RA for an average of more than 10 years. The study looked at the patients' disease activity, tender joint count, swollen joint count, health assessment questions, pain scale, and laboratory test results that indicated amount of pain and inflammation, as well as their response to treatment.
Both objective and subjective results indicated that the patients experienced a significant decrease in RA symptoms from spring to fall, and an equally marked increase from fall to spring. The researchers concluded that "awareness of this very real influence on [RA] patients should play a role in more effective treatment management."The results of the study were presented at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in San Diego, Calif.