Influence of weather variables on pain severity in end-stage osteoarthritis

Int Orthop. 2012 Mar;36(3):643-6. doi: 10.1007/s00264-011-1304-9. Epub 2011 Jun 29.


Purpose: Patients often attribute increasing pain in an arthritic joint to changing weather patterns. Studies examining the impact of weather on pain severity have yielded equivocal and sometimes contradictory results. The relationship between subchondral pseudocysts and the role they play in this phenomenon has not been explored.

Methods: Fifty-three patients with end-stage osteoarthritis of the hip completed daily pain severity visual analogue scale (VAS) scores over a one month period. Radiographs were reviewed to determine the presence of pseudocysts. Data pertaining to precipitation, atmospheric pressure and temperature were collected from the nearest weather station. A generalised linear mixed model was used to explore the relationship between weather variables, cysts and pain severity.

Results: Pain levels increased as a function of absolute change in atmospheric pressure from one day to the next. Precipitation, temperature and the presence of subchondral pseudocysts were not shown to influence pain severity.

Conclusions: This data supports the belief held by many osteoarthritic patients that changing weather patterns influence their pain severity.

MeSH terms

  • Atmospheric Pressure
  • Bone Cysts / diagnosis
  • Bone Cysts / etiology
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Cartilage, Articular / physiopathology
  • Hip Joint / pathology
  • Hip Joint / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Models, Statistical
  • Osteoarthritis, Hip / complications
  • Osteoarthritis, Hip / physiopathology*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Weather*