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Weather might not be responsible for joint pains

Two new Australian studies suggest that changes in air pressure or rainy days are not to blame for aches and pains, LiveScience reports.

The first study, published in December 2016 in the journal Pain Medicine, included almost 1,000 adults that experienced low back pain. The researchers took four years to gather data from doctors across Sydney and compared that with weather data from the period of time when the person was either experiencing pain or was pain-free.

It’s not uncommon for people to blame achy joints on the weather, but two new studies from Australia suggest that changes in air pressure or rainy days are not the culprits for your aches and pains.

The conclusion of the study was that no link existed between people’s back pain and weather parameters such as air pressure, precipitation or wind speed.

The second study, published in the same month in the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, analyzed almost 350 people with knee arthritis. The participants were asked to rate their knee pain on a scale from 1 to 10 every 10 days over the course of three months, with a minimum 2-point increase on the pain scale considered a flare-up. When researchers compared the flare-up data with meteorological data, they found no links.

“People were adamant that adverse weather conditions worsened their symptoms, so we decided to go ahead with a new study based on data from new patients with lower back pain and osteoarthritis,” Chris Maher, the director of the musculoskeletal division at The George Institute for Global Health and a co-author of the back pain study, said in the statement.

“The results were almost exactly the same: There is absolutely no link between pain and the weather in these conditions,” Maher said.

He continued, “The belief that pain and inclement weather are linked dates back to Roman times. But our research suggests this belief may be based on the fact that people recall events that confirm their pre-existing views.”

Not all experts agree with the conclusions, however.

“Despite these studies, it is not possible to say that there is no link, especially given how much people report that for them there is a strong link” said Dr. Robert Shmerling, the clinical chief of the division of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

“It is nearly impossible to ‘prove a negative’ — there is always a possibility that a particular weather feature does affect a particular type of arthritis in a particular set of people — but so far we haven’t figured out if that’s the case,” Shmerling told Live Science.

“A number of studies have looked at this question and many have found no connection,” while some have found correlations between a variety of weather factors, such as barometric pressure or changes in humidity, “but overall there has been no consistent pattern,” he said.

Lydia Peirce