Humidity proves to be a pain
It's not the heat, it's the humidity-an adage you have probably heard or even used before. A new study finds that for people with osteoarthritis pain levels corresponded with changes in the weather, particularly humidity and pressure. About 27 million American have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis (OA) and one in two U.S. residents will experience some form of OA in their lifetime. The condition is more common in women than in men.
Dutch researchers conducted a study in hopes of finding an association in measurable changing weather conditions and the clinical symptoms in patients with hip osteoarthritis.
According to the Pain Journal Online, The two-year study included 222 patients who filled out a questionnaire assessing their pain levels every three months, rating it on a scale from 0 (no pain) to 100. This scale, known as the Western Ontario and McMasters University Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC), is a self-assessment of pain and function. Starting scores averaged 23 points for pain and 35 points for function. Some of those participating in the study underwent surgery for their condition and were omitted from consideration in the results, leaving 188 patients.
Researchers collected weather reports from the days that patients recorded their scores. Weather data gathered included temperature, wind speed, rainfall, humidity and pressure.
Comparing the WOMAC scores to weather conditions at the times of assessment, researchers did find a relationship. Pain scores worsened by one point for every 10% increase in humidity; while function scores also decreased by one point for every 0.29" rise in barometric pressure.
Doctors say that WOMAC scores must be altered by at least 10 points to be considered "clinically relevant," but admit the findings are not insignificant, especially for patients.