Can Your Bum Knee Really Predict the Weather?

Your grandfather might have sworn otherwise, but the changing weather forecast may not be to blame for stiff, achy joints.


People have long blamed their aches and pains—back pain or arthritis flare-ups—on changes in the temperature or humidity or on an incoming weather front. While the idea of weather-dependent pain goes all the way back to Roman times, a new study reveals there is absolutely no link between discomfort and the elements.

The study, conducted by the George Institute for Global Health, showed that the belief in weather-caused pain is actually “a preexisting view,” with people only observing their pain on days that support their theory, rather than on a consistent basis. Professor Chris Maher, a researcher in the study told, “People recall events that confirm their preexisting views. Human beings are very susceptible, so it’s easy to see why we might only take note of pain on the days when it’s cold and rainy outside, but discount the days when we have symptoms but the weather is mild and sunny.”

For the study, researchers examined nearly 1,000 people who suffer from lower back pain, along with 350 people diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis. The study took place in Australia, with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology providing the weather statistics for the study’s duration. Researchers compared the weather at the time patients first noticed pain with weather conditions one week and one month before the onset of pain as a control measure.

Results showed “no correlation between back pain and temperature, humidity, air pressure, wind direction, or precipitation,” according to the study authors. Higher temperatures did increase the chances of lower back pain, but the amount of the increase was not clinically important. Following the study’s conclusion, Professor Maher said, “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 both lower back pain and osteoarthritis. The results though were almost exactly the same—there is absolutely no link between pain and the weather in these conditions.”

Instead of blaming the weather, researchers suggest finding ways you can control, manage, and treat your pain. Here are some doctor’s tip for preventing arthritis and home remedies for relief if you suffer from arthritis pain.

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