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Google searches reveal surprising news about rain and joint pain

It’s a pretty common adage that arthritis and hip or joint pain serve as a somewhat of a weather predictor. We’ve all heard that people with arthritis can tell when it’s about to rain because they feel increased swelling and pain in their joints.

It turns out that weather does indeed have a direct impact on arthritis and joint pain, but has more to do with temperatures and activity levels than rain.

Data from Google search trends gathered across 45 states was used to determine what effect, if any, weather had on searches for joint pain and arthritis. Researchers from the

The University of Washington Medicine and Harvard found that it was temperature and activity levels that drove the most searches, while there was a tapering off of search trends for joint pain during rainy weather.

As temperatures rose within the range of 23 degrees to 86 degrees Fahrenheit, Google searches about joint pain increased as well. Searches for knee pain peaked at 73 degrees and tapered off at higher temperatures, while hip pain searches peaked at 83 degrees and tapered off at higher temperatures. But rainy weather actually decreased search results for both knee and hip pain.

The researchers concluded that warmer temperatures, which could spur more activity, are a likelier cause in the influx in Google searchers rather than rainy and damp weather.

“We haven’t found any direct mechanism that links ambient temperature with pain. What we think is the much more likely explanation is the fact that people are more active on nice days, so more prone to have overuse and acute injuries from that and to search online for relevant information. That’s our hypothesis for what we’ll explore next,” said Scott Telfer, researcher from the University of Washington School of Medicine.

This study could prove an invaluable tool for further data driven studies using Google search trends to decipher what impacts and prompts online searches in relation to a person’s health.


By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

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