Rain, rain go away..? We all know people (perhaps ourselves included)  who complain that their joint pains worsen as the weather changes. Cold and wet weather is thought, by a lot of people to make the pain of arthritis worse, with the ‘damp’ getting into the joints. The effect of weather changes on pain was noted by the Greeks over 200 years ago. But, is there any science to base these beliefs on?? A team at Harvard University have studied the case notes of 1 and a half million people over 65 years, and they have found the ancient Greeks had it wrong. There does not appear to be a correlation between worsening joint pain and rainfall. The Harvard team studied over 11 million consultations made by 1.5 million people over the age of 65 years to a primary care physician for joint or back pains. The weather on the day of consultation and in the preceding week was noted. No link could be found between inclement weather and worsening pain, even in patients who had rheumatoid arthritis. In such a study, there are limitations, such as the existence of other medical conditions, or whether or not medication had been taken for the complaint. Taking this into account the study team were surprised that even a small link was not found. It seems even the Ancient Greeks weren’t right on this one. How likely is it that such a commonly held belief is likely to change after the publication of this study? Is our belief in worsening of pain due to the effect that rain days have on our state of mind? The study authors still wonder whether a relationship may exist between the weather and back pain, but an even larger study would need to be performed to examine this further. What are your thoughts?



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