No, rain doesn’t cause your joints to ache but sunny weather might

We all know someone who is convinced bad weather affects their joints, but these claims don’t have any scientific basis, according to investigators from UW Medicine in Seattle and Harvard University.

No, rain doesn't cause your joints to ache but sunny weather might

Between 1 Jaunuary 2011 and 31 December 2015, the researchers used Google Trends to analyse search traffic around joint pain. They then compared it to weather around the same period. Data such as precipitation, relative humidity and barometric pressure was collected from 45 of America’s 50 most popular states, and the results show bad-weather-related joint pain is a myth.

Instead, it turns out that it’s good weather that increases joint pain. The study found that as temperatures rose from 23˚F to 86˚F, searches for knee and hip pain steadily increased. Knee pain-related queries peaked at 73˚F, hip ailment queries peaked at 83˚F, while bad weather reduced the number of searches for both. The researchers also analysed search traffic around stomach pain as a control.

“We were surprised by how consistent the results were throughout the range of temperatures in cities across the country,” said Scott Telfer, a researcher in orthopaedics and sports medicine at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine.

“You hear people with arthritis say they can tell when the weather is changing,” he said. “But with past studies, there’s only been vague associations, nothing concrete, and our findings align with those.”

“We haven’t found any direct mechanism that links ambient temperature with pain. What we think is much more likely explanation is the fact that people are more active on nice days,” Tefler explained. “So [they’re] more prone to have overuse and acute injuries from that and to search online for relevant information.”

The study wasn’t exactly bulletproof, partly because Google Trends only works in weekly increments, and partly because it focused on search traffic – not confirmed symptoms. Either way, the results collected were pretty conclusive, so you can tell your friends their pain has nothing to do with poor weather.

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