Well here is Mass, we just had a blizzard that lasted two days, there's a lot of snow out there! I've been wondering how many of you are affected by the cold. I know a lot of times I feel a lot more achy and stiff when it's cold out, especially when it's snowing or raining. Does weather really affect our RA? I've decided to do some research into this to see if and how this is true.
John Hopkins Medicine did a research study on patients with osetoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia to test this very question. They had 151 people with one of these diseases, and 32 without, keep a journal for a year recording how they felt each day, and weather conditions such as temperature, barometric pressure, and relative humidity. Patients in all three groups experienced more pain on days when the temperature was low, while people in the control group were unaffected by any of the weather conditions. In addition, patients with rheumatoid arthritis were affected by high humidity and high pressure; osteoarthritis patients by high humidity; and those with fibromyalgia by high pressure. However, the associations were not strong enough to allow pain to predict weather, or vice versa.
The other study looked at 154 people (average age 72) who lived in Florida and had osteoarthritis of the neck, hand, shoulder, knee, or foot. Participants reported their arthritis pain scores for up to two years, then researchers matched the scores with the daily temperature, barometric pressure, and precipitation status. No significant associations were found between any of the weather conditions and osteoarthritis pain at any site, except for a slight association between rising barometric pressure and hand pain in women.
Although some evidence exists that people living in warmer, drier climates experience fewer episodes of arthritis pain, climate does not affect the course of the disease. At most, it may affect symptoms of arthritis pain.
One theory holds that a drop in air pressure (which often accompanies cold, rainy weather) allows tissues in the body to expand to fill the space, meaning that already inflamed tissue can swell even more and cause increased arthritis pain. Other possibilities: Pain thresholds drop in colder weather; cold, rainy days affect mood; and during colder weather people are less likely to be outside and get the exercise that normally helps keep arthritis pain in check.
So does this possible link between cold, rainy weather and arthritis pain mean that people with arthritis should move to a dry, warm climate like Arizona? Not necessarily, especially if it means leaving your family, friends, doctors, and support system behind. If you are thinking of moving, first spend a considerable amount of time in your new location to see if the weather affects your arthritis pain symptoms.
But bear in mind that no environment is arthritis-proof: Even though the people in these research studies live in warm climates, they still struggle with arthritis pain. Similarly, it’s possible to get relief from arthritis pain in any climate. For example, even if cold weather means you can’t spend time outdoors, you can still get valuable exercise in a gym or heated pool.
Source: John Hopkins Medicine