The weather does not influence your pain – unless you have gout

Come rain, hail, or shine it turns out the weather doesn’t worsen muscle and joint pain, according to the results of a new study published in Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism.

The findings challenge a commonly held belief that weather conditions such as impending rain, temperature, and humidity can trigger or worsen musculoskeletal pain or arthritis.

Musculoskeletal conditions, which affect the bones, muscles, and joints and certain connective tissues, affect 27% of Australians.

“There is a common perception that there is an increase of musculoskeletal symptoms such as back pain, hip pain or arthritic symptoms during certain types of weather,” says lead author Manuela Ferreira from Sydney Musculoskeletal Health, the University of Sydney.

“Our research challenges that thinking by showing that weather has no direct link with most of our aches and pains.”

The meta-analysis pooled data from existing studies involving more than 15,300 participants reporting more than 28,000 new episodes or worsening of muscle or joint pain. Knee or hip osteoarthritis were the most common conditions reported, followed by low back pain and rheumatoid arthritis.

Changes in air temperature, humidity, pressure, and rainfall were not associated with increased risk of knee, hip, or lower back pain symptoms. Nor were they associated with new care seeking events for arthritis.

“When seeking pain prevention and relief, both patients and clinicians should focus on how to best manage the condition, including weight management and exercises, and not focus on the weather and let it influence treatment,” says Ferreira.

However, according to the results, weather may have a significant influence on gout disease. High temperatures combined with low humidity were associated with increased pain, redness, and joint swelling in people with gout.

The researchers explain its “possible that warm and dry weather may lead to dehydration, increased uric acid concentration, and increased crystal deposition in people with gout, resulting in increased risk of gout flares”.

Please login to favourite this article.