Arthritis Pain Is Linked with Weather

Published Online: Saturday, January 1, 2005

New data have corroborated arthritis patients' argument that changes in the barometer and cold weather increase their joint pain. The current study examined 2 separate sets of data: weather reports and arthritis patients' pain reports. The researchers merged National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather data with the data from an on-line glucosamine trial (a largescale study of an OTC arthritis treatment). The glucosamine trial followed 205 arthritis patients who reported on their arthritis pain for a 3-month period.

After the trial was completed, the researchers began to look at weather patterns where the study participants lived. The first step involved identifying the closest weather station by ZIP code for each of the study participants. Next, the investigators examined daily weather reports from NOAA that identified temperature, barometric pressure, rainfall, and dew points for the locations of each of the participants for the study's 3 months. The final step included averaging the weather reports from 1, 3, and 7 days before each participant's report of pain and then looking for any change in each measure in the 24 hours before each pain report.

The evidence showed that changes in barometric pressure were a strong indicator for knee pain, as were cooler temperatures, although not to the same extent. Rainfall and dew points had no major associations.

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