Everyone knows someone who complains that their joint pain flares up in bad weather. But can the weather really affect joint pain? And where’s the evidence?
I had an elderly relative whose knees seemed to have predictive capabilities. She would wince, rub her knee and confidently predict a change in the weather whilst everyone around her would roll their eyes. The fact that she was proved right for at least part of the time was, we felt, no evidence at all – simply the law of averages.
But was it? Is there some scientific connection between the weather and knee pain?
“No, rain doesn’t cause your joints to ache,” the alphr website pronounces confidently in an article this week. “Predict your joint pain level based on the local weather” says the Arthritis Foundation, taking an entirely contradictory position.
That’s the problem with the issue of weather and joint pain – practically every article seems to contradict the last, and many are based on ‘scientific’ research that appears little more scientific that rubbing your knee and staring at the sky.
The current state of the science
Even the hard scientific research is somewhat contradictory. The alphr site above reports an investigation by UW Medicine in Seattle and Harvard University which used a 4 years study of Google Trends to explore when people searched most for advice on relieving joint pain. Surprisingly, searches rose with the temperature, with knee pain searches peaking when the thermometer touched 23°C.
Another article from Harvard Medical School points to two recent studies, one of which found that rising barometric pressure could cause slightly increased pain and stiffness. The other discovered that weather is not the influencing factor, but increased humidity, particularly in colder weather, could have an effect.
Does weather affect knee pain?
As you’ll gather from the sample of evidence above, the picture is hardly complete and the evidence far from conclusive. It does seem that there may be some connection between ‘weather’ (in its broadest sense of atmospheric conditions) and knee and other joint pain – but precisely what that connection is remains unclear. Barometric pressure appears to be a leading candidate. Humidity also seems to play a role, but the connection between the two, and the role of other factors, remains something of a mystery.
Ultimately, whatever the weather, if your knee is causing you discomfort, Yorkshire Knee Clinic can help. Contact our knee consultants for a swift diagnosis and treatment. Talk to Yorkshire Knee Clinic now.
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