Do your knees ache when the weather changes? Does your big toe throb when it starts raining? It’s as if your pain can detect changes in weather such as barometric pressure, humidity, and rainfall.
Well, the study I’m about to reference proposes there are no associations with changes in weather and an increase in outpatient visits for pain.
A ‘big data’ study used data of more than 1.5 million senior citizens 65 years and older with joint and back pain. ‘During 2008-12, including those with rheumatoid arthritis, the proportion of joint or back pain related visits was not associated with rainfall on the day of the appointment or with the amount of rainfall during that week or the preceding week‘ (Jena et al, 2017).
In other words, there was no ‘rain effect.’
One limitation of the study is that the patients may not think the pain during rainfall is bad enough to visit their doctor. They might be popping over-the-counter medication to deal while it rains.
Another limitation is they only compared the relationship to rainfall and outpatient visits for pain.
Now, this isn’t to say weather doesn’t affect joint pain or a swollen joint at all but this study didn’t find any conclusive evidence.
Hey, not even meteorologists get forecasts right 100% of the time. ☔
1)Hopkin, Karen (2017, December 23). Pain and Weather Fail to Connect, Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode/pain-and-weather-fail-to-connect/
2) Jena et al., Association between rainfall and diagnoses of joint or back pain: retrospective claims analysis, BMJ 2017; 359.