Sunday, July 27, 2014

Why do my knees always hurt when it's raining out? Oh wait, they don't.

I played soccer my entire life, up until I was halfway through my first year of college. About half of those fourteen years of playing soccer were riddled with multiple knee injuries, ranging from minor sprains to three separate ACL tears that all required surgery. Basically, I am going to have arthritis in my knees at a very young age.

Throughout my life, I have always heard that bad weather causes joint pain in people with current or previous injury. I never gave much thought to this until the last couple of years after I stopped playing competitive soccer. When I was playing, my knee always hurt, whether it was raining or not, only because I was constantly using it! Now that I do not perform intense exercise everyday, my knees do not hurt everyday. They are only sore after a long day of walking or the day after I play a two hour game of ultimate frisbee. 

Some of these days that I feel a soreness in my joints do coincide with cloudy or rainy days. However, if I performed a study that recorded the days I did and did not have sore knees, the daily weather, and all of the days I exercised, I could come up with a better conclusion. As a scientist, I have always been taught to find correlations in data but to not always assume that the correlation equals causation. In this case, I would like to not only record data about me but record data about many different types of people with different lifestyles and different injuries. A larger data set might offer more significant results.

I was glad to read that there was some scientific study done on this belief that arthritis pain is related to the weather. It was never something I personally noticed with my own joint pain, so I was always confused at why people believed it to be true. 

I found a link on, a trusted weather source, that offers a local aches and pains forecast for people that are worried about how the weather will affect their health. You can type in any location, and it will give you the "Aches & Pains Index," chance of precipitation, humidity change, and temperature change. 

However, other sources, such as WebMD, acknowledge that the general population may believe that arthritis pain and the weather are related, but say that there is no clear scientific evidence that supports this claim. 

Related to Chapter 2.3, page 33.

1 comment:

  1. Very similar to your situation, after injuring my ankle from playing soccer, I received my second surgery for my injury last summer. In the short, simple version, I detached cartilage in my ankle, and my final surgery resulted in a graft being taken out of my knee and plugged into my ankle to take the place of the cartilage I had detached. I had also always heard that with a joint injury, I would basically become a weather predictor, especially when it came to storms, and I had always been curious as to whether it was true or not. As with most surgeries, physical therapy often follows, and I asked my therapists after each surgery whether or not it was really true. I never received a definite answer. They weren't sure if it was real or not, and I was happy they were honest with me about not really knowing for sure. One of my therapists told me some people believe it has to do with how the pressure changes before and after a storm and how it effects the tissues surrounding an injury, but he wasn't sure he believed that. I notice sometimes that I have increased pain that coincides with stormy weather too. However, usually when I realize the coincidence, I also remember I had done some kind of physical activity the day or two before, but I've never taken data to actually try and come up with a possible conclusion. Even if I did do a study on myself, more participants would definitely be needed to come to a reasonable conclusion about whether or not the weather is the causing factor in increased pain.
    More consistently than noticing increased pain when there is stormy weather (I haven't taken any data on this either) I notice more of a trend between increased pain, stiffness, and soreness when the weather gets cold in the winter. To see how legitimate my thoughts are on this, if at all, studies would need to be done for sure.
    I just checked out the link you posted for the "Aches & Pains Index", and I'm fascinated that it even exists. Were you able to find any information about how the index is determined?