The association between arthritis and the weather

Int J Biometeorol. 1997 Jun;40(4):192-9. doi: 10.1007/s004840050041.


Despite the prevasiveness of the idea that arthritis is influenced by the weather, scientific evidence on the matter is sparse and non-conclusive. This study, conducted in the Australian inland city of Bendigo, sought to establish a possible relationship between the pain and rigidity of arthritis and the weather variables of temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed and precipitation. Pain and rigidity levels were scored by 25 participants with osteoarthritis and/or rheumatoid arthritis four times per day for 1 month from each season. Mean pain and rigidity scores for each time of each day were found to be correlated with the meteorological data. Correlations between mean symptoms and temperature and relative humidity were significant (P < 0.001). Time of day was included in the analysis. Stepwise multiple regression analysis indicated that meteorological variables and time of day accounted for 38% of the variance in mean pain and 20% of the variance in mean rigidity when data of all months were considered. A post-study telephone questionnaire indicated 92% of participants perceived their symptoms to be influenced by the weather, while 48% claimed to be able to predict the weather according to their symptoms. Hence, the results suggest (1) decreased temperature is associated with both increased pain and increased rigidity and (2) increased relative humidity is associated with increased pain and rigidity in arthritis sufferers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arthritis / etiology*
  • Arthritis / physiopathology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / etiology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis / etiology
  • Osteoarthritis / physiopathology
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Victoria
  • Weather*