Why the Weather Has Nothing to Do with Joint Pain

It’s not uncommon for people to blame the weather for their aching joints. We hear our grandparents, our friends, even the guy who works at the shop around the corner: rainy days might be coming, my bones are feeling sore. However, science and research tend to disagree.

Experts from Australia and U.S. have demonstrated in two separate, unrelated studies that there is no evidence to suggest any correlation between meteorological changes such as humidity, rain or temperature and air pressure, and back or arthritis pain. Following a thorough investigation between insurance claims and rainfall, researchers from Harvard Medical School have concluded that the total of precipitations and the number of joint pains are seemingly unconnected.

To reinforce those findings, George Institute for Global Health scientists have conducted a study on almost 1,000 patients suffering from low back pain and another 350 with knee osteoarthritis. They have used data provided by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and compared it with the time when participants first began noticing pain symptoms. Again, results showed no association between the two.

Arthritis affects people of all ages, from babies to elders, and stays for life. It is a complex condition over 100 different types, from rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, gout or one of the most common forms – osteoarthritis. Official statistics estimate that about 1 in every 10 Canadians aged 15 years or older is suffering from osteoarthritis and these numbers increase with age. With as many as 29% of all patients reporting knee pain. At the same time, there are 540 million people affected by back pain globally and it is the main cause of disability worldwide. And according to Statistics Canada, about four out of five Canadians will suffer from it at some point throughout their lives.

Exactly because of these high incidences, people who suffer from a form of arthritis or back should focus on the things that are in their control such as managing the pain and preventing it from recurring or getting worse. The weather has nothing to do with that and moreover, it is out of their control which makes it all the more irrelevant to justify the pain like this.

The best cure for most people? A healthy lifestyle that balances diet, exercising and hand manipulated therapies such as massage therapy or acupuncture to help better manage the symptoms in a non-invasive and efficient way. Therapeutic massage can help lessen osteoarthritis-related pain by improving blood flow and decreasing stress and muscle tension. Acupuncture on the other hand has been proven to be highly effective in back pain: a 2018 review of 22 acupuncture studies found that the technique provided short-term relief from chronic pain and a greater improvement in pain levels overall.

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