Humidity linked to joint pain

Humid weather can affect joint pain in older people with OA, research suggests.

The study of over 800 people with knee, hand or hip OA participating in the European Project on OSteoArthritis found significant associations between daily and 3-day average humidity and joint pain.

The association was stronger when the temperature was low, reported the authors in the Journal of Rheumatology.

Changes in weather variables between 2 consecutive days were not significantly associated with reported joint pain.

Humidity and temperature may have an effect on the expansion and contraction of different tissues in the affected joint that may elicit a pain response, the research team hypothesised.

Low temperatures may also increase the viscosity of synovial fluid, thereby making joints stiffer and perhaps more sensitive to the pain of mechanical stresses.

However the associations between day-to-day weather changes and pain do not confirm causation, the study authors cautioned.

There might be a “momentaneous causal effect” of relative humidity on joint pain in OA that is restricted to the same day, they said.

“Knowledge on the relationship between joint pain in OA and weather conditions may help individuals with OA, physicians, and therapists to better understand and manage fluctuations in pain,” the researchers concluded.

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