Achy joints? Don't blame the weather, researchers say
It's not the rain, nor the temperature, humidity, barometric pressure or wind direction that's causing your lower back pain, according to a new study. (Piotr Marcinski)
Sonja Puzic, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, January 10, 2017 11:23AM EST
If you suffer from back pain or arthritis, don’t blame your aches on the weather, researchers say.
A series of Australian studies have concluded there’s no evidence behind the common belief that back and arthritis-related pain can be triggered by humidity, rain or temperature and air pressure changes.
"The belief that pain and inclement weather are linked dates back to Roman times,” Chris Maher, a professor at the George Institute for Global Health, said in a news release.
“But our research suggests this belief may be based on the fact that people recall events that confirm their pre-existing views.”
Researchers recruited nearly 1,000 people with lower back pain and about 350 with knee osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease. Using weather data from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, they compared the weather at the time patients first noticed pain with the weather conditions recorded one week and one month before the onset of pain.
The results showed “no association between back pain and temperature, humidity, air pressure, wind direction or precipitation,” the researchers reported.
Higher temperatures did slightly raise the chances of lower back pain, but the increase was not considered clinically important.
Maher said the latest studies were done in response to people who were “adamant” that the weather affected their aches and pains, and who dismissed earlier studies that also found no link between pain and weather.
Back pain or arthritis sufferers “should not focus on the weather as it does not have an important influence on your symptoms and it is outside your control,” Manuela Ferreira, the George Institute professor who led the osteoarthritis research, said in the release.
“What's more important is to focus on things you can control in regards to managing pain and prevention," she said.
The Arthritis Society says that more than three million Canadians suffer from some type of osteoarthritis.
According to a population health survey conducted by Statistics Canada, it is estimated that four out of five Canadian adults will experience back pain at some point in their lives.