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Friday, February 25, 2011

Can damp or cold weather really make your joints hurt?


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: joints arthritis damp weather

Why: When I was hauling Chandler's laundry all over the town today in the rain, my L4 vertebra - which I injured nary a fortnight ago - started to hurt like holy hell. It was like when Chandler (Bing) said, "The cold weather hurts my hip."

Answer: Maybe! Different experts say different things, of course. On the "no way" side, here are some facts:
  • Decades of medical research have failed to establish an objective relationship between arthritis severity and weather patterns.
  • Detailed interviews with specific patients have yielded mostly anecdotes, and those who move to drier climates do not report major relief.
  • The skin surrounding joints is rather impervious to water.
  • Most people stay dry indoors during rain anyway.
  • Arthritis patients do not experience dramatic changes in their symptoms when immersed in water (such as during baths or swimming).
  • Wet weather may also be associated with other climatic conditions, such as decreases in barometric pressures - but this connection also seems implausible, given that much greater pressure swings are tolerated easily during plane travel or mountain driving in a car.
  • While atmospheric humidity might enter the body through the respiratory tract, this seems an unlikely contributor since hospitalized patients are often given humidified air to breathe, and this has little apparent effect on arthritis conditions.
  • A long shower does not usually induce arthritis pain.
Compelling? Yes, but this article on eHow by a freelance writer who has no medical degree offers this evidence to the contrary:
  • Our joints contain baro-receptors, sensory nerves that respond to changes in pressure in the atmosphere. When the barometric pressure (during low, rainy, damp weather) the receptors react to this, causing joint swelling, pain and aching.
  • Barometric pressure is the weight of the air that surrounds us. Sometimes a decrease in temperature or an increase in barometric pressure can prompt joint pain.
  • Barometric pressure generally falls right before the arrival of wet, damp weather. When this happens, your bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons have to adjust by expanding. When expansion occurs, sensitized nerves send out pain signals.
  • Damp weather can detonate inflamed joints.
Source: Scientific American, eHow

The More You Know: What a lovely old couple.

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