Joint pain and arthritis affect a greater number of adults living in this Earth and no amount of medications can solve the problem. Many people keep it under control by practising physiotherapy exercises and maintaining a stable diet while many others suffer from pain relentlessly as they don’t do both! Despite therapy and diet, it is also common to hear many individuals complain of terrifying pain during colder days or as soon as they get up in the morning. I saw this with my very own eyes when my aunt suffered from rheumatoid arthritis-while her pain was bearable through the day it would go beyond a certain threshold in the morning while she suffered until the sun made its appearance brightly in the sky. History has it that arthritis and joint pain increase during winter months when its cold outside but what about it scientifically? We have been asking our physicians the reasons behind this incessantly but don’t get much answers that satisfy us! This hasn’t dampened the mood of our researchers who have been working diligently on finding solution to this problem.
We have studies from the past that show that rain, humidity and other weather-related factors don’t show evident effects on arthritis while some suggest that the primary variable here is rise in barometric pressure but we also have some studies that show that falling pressure could provoke joint pain and stiffness. All these confuse us whether factors such as humidity, temperature, barometric pressure and precipitation affect arthritis and even if we confirm that any/all of them do affect the question ‘why’ remains yet to be answered. A couple of years back two studies tried to study the effect of weather on arthritis symptoms and both of them showed a positive effect. In one study 222 Dutch participants with osteoarthritis over a 2-year study period found that pain and stiffness increased with rising barometric pressure and humidity. In the other study including 800 participants from 6 different European studies suffering from osteoarthritis of the hip and knee the study found that while weather changes did not affect symptoms, increase in humidity was linked with increasing pain and stiffness much more during colder weather. Osteoarthritis can ruin the quality of life of the individual and for help in improving it please visit our website www.firsteatright.com for tips and tricks.
Now, we have a latest study from the University of Manchester that shows that people suffering from health conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraine and neuropathic pain are 20% likelier to be susceptible to increased pain during humid, windy days with low pressure. The study included more than 13,000 participants who recorded their symptoms using a smartphone app while scientists used GPS to record weather conditions on specific days. Results showed that high humidity levels were more important in determining pain levels while low pressure and high wind speed also increased pain but to a lesser degree. Rainfall showed no association with pain changes and dry days showed least pain in the participants. Though researchers proposed that whether has a strong influence on mood and mood in turn can influence pain it was found that weather and pain were strongly interrelated even when the researchers took care of mood. This proves one more thing-sometimes pain levels are not in our hands and we need not blame our self-management ways in times of intense pain.
A clue about our upcoming pain levels also helps us prepare for the worst, complete our tasks beforehand and plan activities accordingly to skip any intense activities during those days when we predict greater pain. Though we haven’t got an answer to ‘why’ the pain happens due to weather changes at least we not have a clearer picture on ‘when’ greater pain exists which can help us plan our day-to-day life accordingly.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.