Arthritis symptoms and the weather
Remember when we all used to laugh when Granny predicted “my arthritis is playing up, there’ll be rain on the way….” Well scientists at the University of Manchester think she might have had a point after all.
Arthritis is a general term used to describe joint inflammation, of which there are a number of underlying causes and types of arthritis. One in five people over 50 suffer with “wear and tear” arthritis of the knee, so it’s a hugely prevalent problem.
Many things can affect a patient’s symptoms but as Osteopaths we are very aware that weather is something many patients attribute to their arthritis symptoms flaring up or indeed improving. We’ve even known patients move abroad to warmer climates because they feel it makes such a difference – so there’s got to be something in it, surely?
A new study entitled “Cloudy with a Chance of Pain” launched in January this year and is intended to run for a year. A Smart Phone App collects and records data from arthritis patients on a daily basis and through the phones GPS, weather data is also collected for comparison.
Mobility sensors track the patient’s activity throughout the day; all they need to do is carry their phone with them. Every day the patient is prompted to record their symptoms, pain level, and general wellbeing in a diary. The app automatically links with local weather stations and records important information about weather and climate conditions each day.
What’s special about this project is that it’s being run as a “big citizen science experiment”, which means during the study anyone, those with and without arthritis, can review the data and try to identify patterns. Those ideas will be collated together and then a formal analysis by the scientist will be done when the project concludes in 2017. Just as we have pollen counts as part of the weather in the summer, pain forecasts could be something we start to see too.
The hope is that, if patterns and relationships can be identified between arthritis symptoms and weather, then it helps people living with chronic pain to plan their days. If they know weather conditions aren’t favourable on Wednesday they may plan their trip to the beach for later in the week.
If you want to get involved, either as a sufferer of arthritis or just to have a look at the data – check out their website, cloudy with a chance of pain.
If you want to know more about how Osteopathy could help you with your arthritis symptoms, take a look at our case study or our new page on spondylosis.