One of my friends swears he can predict if it’s going to rain – because his joints begin to ache.

Is there really a connection between weather and changes in arthritis symptoms?

A study in the British Medical Journal has compared 11 million patient visits for joint disorders on rainy and non-rainy days. Contrary to popular belief, it found NO difference in the level of pain patients reported on rainy versus non-rainy days. If anything, there were more visits on dry days!

But maybe it’s temperature, or barometric pressure?

Well, a study published in Arthritis Care and Research found NO association between “temperature, relative humidity, air pressure, wind direction and precipitation”.

So is it a myth that weather affects arthritic symptoms?

Maybe not – a 200 patient study published in the American Journal of Medicine found that knee pain increased modestly when temperature or barometric pressure changed.

What’s really going on?

It is true that we do tend to remember the times when two events occur together – like a friend phoning just as you were thinking of her. But you don’t remember all the times when you thought of that friend and she didn’t phone! It’s called false synchronicity.

Observing that wet weather and joint pain coincided is inevitably more memorable than not noticing that you felt neither better or worse on a rainy day.  If you rely only on memory rather than on more data-based evidence, it’s easy to find a link where none exists.

What do YOU think?

The folklore is in favour of weather affecting arthritis. The science is sceptical. Tell us what you think.

What we do know, however, is that there are some good, science-validated (and natural) ways to alleviate the pain of arthritis and even help re-build cartilage. See this additional article


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Association between rainfall and diagnoses of joint or back pain: retrospective claims analysis. Anupam B Jena, Ruth L Newhouse et al; BMJ 2017;359:j5326

Effect of Weather on Back Pain: Results From a Case‐Crossover Study. Daniel Steffens et al; Arthritis Care & Research Vol. 66, No. 12, December 2014, pp 1867–1872 DOI 10.1002/acr.22378

Changes in Barometric Pressure and Ambient Temperature Influence Osteoarthritis Pain. Tim McAlindon MD MPH, Margaret Formica MSPH, Christopher H. Schmid PhD, Jeremiah Fletcher BS; The American Journal of Medicine Vol. 120, Issue 5, May 2007, pp. 429–434