Chalk one up for conventional wisdom: Arthritis (search) pain and weather really do appear to be connected.
Cooler temperatures and changes in barometric pressure (search) go hand-in-hand with increases in arthritis pain, according to new research.
"People have such strong convictions about influences of the weather on arthritis that studies of this question can suffer from biases on either side," says Timothy McAlindon from Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston.
McAlindon and colleagues confirmed the popular belief by analyzing data from the Online Glucosamine Trial. Glucosamine sulfate (search) is a nutritional supplement widely used for treating osteoarthritis (search), the most common form of arthritis, which causes degeneration of joints resulting from loss of cartilage.
The study was conducted from March 2000 to May 2003 and included about 200 people with knee osteoarthritis in 41 U.S. states.
The researchers then turned to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for weather information.
Locating the nearest weather station for each study participant by ZIP code, McAlindon's team logged three months of temperature, barometric pressure, precipitation, and dew point for one, three, and seven days before each arthritis pain report.
They examined changes in arthritis pain severity reported by individuals with knee osteoarthritis in various geographic areas.
Changes in barometric pressure and cooler temperatures "are indeed associated with increases in arthritis pain," say the researchers.
The presented their findings in San Antonio at the American College of Rheumatology's annual scientific meeting.
SOURCES: American College of Rheumatology 68th Annual Scientific Meeting, San Antonio, October 16-21, 2004. News release, American College of Rheumatology.