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Does Cold Weather REALLY Make Arthritis Worse?

Does Cold Weather REALLY Make Arthritis Worse?

Daily Mail UK

December 21, 2009

A common misconception about arthritis is that it is an inevitable part of ageing. In fact, while osteoarthritis (OA) – the most common form of the disease – does tend to affect older people, it is not caused by ageing and it does not affect everyone. And there are increasing numbers of younger sufferers.

OA affects 8.5million people in the UK, making it the country’s most prevalent joint disease and the main cause of hip and knee replacements. It is more prevalent in women than men, and usually develops in the over-50s.

The condition causes damage to the cartilage (the smooth, protective, gristle-like substance that lines the bones and allows the joints to move easily) and underlying bone.

When the cartilage deteriorates, the bone underneath thickens and the bones of the joint rub together, causing pain, inflammation and the development of knobbly-looking bony growths, called osteophytes, around the edge of the joints.

At the same time, the joint lining, which is usually as thin as cling film, becomes much thicker and inflamed, and the amount of lubricating fluid can increase, making the joint painful, swollen and stiff to move.

The condition usually develops gradually over many years before symptoms appear and can occur in just one joint, but it normally affects several joints, most commonly the knees, hips, spine and the hands.

Feet, especially big toes, and shoulders, may also be affected. The main symptom is joint pain, and those with OA often feel worse at the end of the day, or after prolonged weight bearing. Some sufferers have few symptoms, while others find that it causes severe pain and/or restricted movement.

Here, Philip Conaghan, professor of musculoskeletal medicine at the University of Leeds, debunks myths about the condition.

MYTH: Jogging will lead to osteoarthritis in later life.

FACT: ‘Normal exercising does not cause arthritis,’ says Prof Conaghan. ‘However, very sporty people, who may suffer injuries to their joints, tend to develop OA because of exercise. No matter what level of exercise you do, if you injure a joint you should be careful to rehabilitate properly. Pulling or clicking your thumbs doesn’t cause arthritis either. But those who have hypermobility syndrome (also known as being double-jointed) may be more at risk.’

MYTH: The weather makes osteoarthritis worse.

FACT: ‘Many claim that arthritis gets worse when the atmospheric pressure falls, just before it rains,’ says Prof Conaghan. ‘But scientific trials have failed to prove this. There is no evidence to show weather or climate has any effect on arthritis. OA occurs all over the world, in all types of climates.’

  • Owl_max50


    almost 6 years ago


    Granny was around BEFORE science was! Can't wait 'til some of the "experts" get a dose of the joint jollies. Or as I told an orthopedic surgeon: "Take a ball point pen and jab it between your tibia and femur. Wait 2 weeks, taking ONLY tylenol or ibuprofen, driving your car and doing your usual amount of work and THEN tell me how it doesn't hurt!"

  • Wacky_cat_max50


    almost 6 years ago


    It makes mine feel worse for darn sure!

  • Owl_max50


    about 5 years ago


    As a victim of of osteoarthritis and recipient of a partial knee implant 9 months ago, I can ASSURE all ye of little faith that weather DOES in fact affect arthritis! This is a fact of simple physics that I had to explain to my orthopedic surgeon. Fluid dynamics you know-low atmospheric pressure causes fluid to move from a high pressure area (such as the affected joint) to an lower pressure area (such as the surrounding tissue), causing swelling, increased crepitus and PAIN!!!
    Listen to your patients! Remember that pain is SUBJECTIVE. For all of our advanced technology we still have NOTHING with which to 'measure' levels of pain! And too many clinicians do not adequately treat it for fear of using narcotics. I have been told by several patients that it takes a whole YEAR to fully recover from any kind of joint replacement. That is a LOOONNNGGG time to be inadequately treated for pain.

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