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Study: Achy joints can’t actually predict rainy weather

There are many people who swear that their sore or achy joints are a sure sign that rainy weather is on its way. But a new study from Harvard Medical School has found that the weather has no bearing on joint pain whatsoever.

The research was published in the journal BMJ.

The researchers, led by Anupam Jena of Harvard Medical School’s Department of Health Care Policy, examined a wide-reaching collection of Medicare records to see if any connection could be found between joint pain and inclement weather.

Data was gathered from more than 11 million primary care office visits between 2008 and 2012, and this information was grouped with daily rainfall totals from National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration weather stations.

Jena and the researchers looked for patterns in the data including an increase in clinic visits during rainy weather, and if patients seeking care for an unrelated issue asked for help with aching joints if it had rained during their appointment.

After a thorough analysis, the researchers couldn’t find any link between joint pain and rainy weather.

“No matter how we looked at the data, we didn’t see any correlation between rainfall and physician visits for joint pain or back pain,” said Jena. “The bottom line is: Painful joints and sore backs may very well be unreliable forecasters.”

Jena notes that given how much data the researchers combed over, if there were any indication of joint pain related to weather, it would have been apparent in the numbers, but it wasn’t.

Even if it’s scientifically unfounded, the researchers say the reason people claim to experience more pain during bad weather is that humans are wired to look for patterns. If someone’s knee unexpectedly starts hurting during a rainy day, it’s easy to blame the weather.

Jena proves that rain has no effect on joint pain, but also makes a point to say that for physician’s, treatment of pain should be the only priority.

“Pain is pain, with or without rain,” Jena said. “But it’s important to know that, at the clinical level, joint pain does not appear to ebb and flow with the weather.”

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

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