View Full Version : Rheumatism/weathert

07-15-1998, 09:45 PM
Part of Original Posting

In the U.K. it is commonplace for people who suffer from what loosely
may be called rheumatic conditions to be aware that in wet weather their
symptoms are worse. This is I think an almost universal observation.

But what is the cause of this ?
I now have had this most interesting reply
faculty of medical sciences (RuG)

One of my colleagues gave me your interesting email messages
concerning a possible relationship between the weather and
symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Since 1979 I have RA myself and I am very interested in
influences that affect my disease. I am convinced that the
meteorological temperature and/or humidity have effect on the
daily joint pain in RA.
The average daily joint pain score of a group of 88 RA patients,
scored during a full year (1981), turned out to be significantly
correlated with the 24-h means of temperature and water vapour
Reference: WR Patberg, RLF Nienhuis and F Veringa; J Rheumatol,
1985; 12: 711-715.

A similar correlation was found between my own daily joint pain
score and the temperature/water vapour pressure.
References: WR Patberg; Lancet, August 15, 1987: 386-387, and WR
Patberg; Arthritis Rheum, 1989; 32: 1627-1629.

Furthermore, the two weather parameters are correlated not only
with the subjective joint pain score but also with an objective
measure of the disease activity: the eythrocyte sedimentation
rate (ESR).
Reference: WR Patberg; Arthritis Rheum, 1997; 24(5): 1017-1018.

The maximum positive correlation between weather and arhritis
parameters was found by cross correlation showing that variation
in a weather parameter was followed with increasing delay
(several weeks) by variation in ESR and pain score,

In the maritime climate of my country (The Netherlands)
temperature and water vapour pressure are strongly related. This
explains the small differences found for the correlation between
an arthritis parameter (ESR or pain score) and each of the
weather parameters (temperature or vapour pressure).

The almost universal observation is that BAD weather increases
the discomfort of RA patients. But what is BAD weather? In
general RA patients state that wet and cold weather is bad. In
my opinion wet AND cold weather does not exist because cold air
can contain only a limited amount of water even at a relative
humidity of 100 percent. If this air comes close to the human
skin, where it is warmed, the relative humidity will drop to a
much lower level. Air has to be warm to be wet.
The results above indicate that warm/humid weather is
unfavourable for people suffering from RA.

I realise that I have no answer for your question "What is the
CAUSE that RA symptoms worsen in wet weather?". My observations
only support the hypothesis that RA symptoms do worsen in
warm/humid weather.

Wiebe R. Patberg
Department of Medical Physiology
University of Groningen
Bloemsingel 10
9712 KZ Groningen
The Netherlands


I have now obtaind a copy of an article mentioned earlier in the
postings . It is

Redelmeier DA., Tversky A.

Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, ON Canada.

On the belief that arthritis pain is related to the weather.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States
of America. 93(7):2895-6, 1996 Apr 2.

It is an interesting short paper and well written in my opinion. It is
probably most useful as a source of references on the subject. going
back to a book by Hippocrates - Air, Water and Places

Unfortunately however the titles of the work quoted are not

The authors deny a relationship between rheumatic pains and weather.

I think their thesis is improbable but certainly seems it have been
difficult reliably to reproduce an association under laboratory

They think it is a question of attempts of the human being to perceive
patterns in data where no correlations exist. We do of course have this
tendency. When listening to white noise it is easy to believe you are
almost hearing speech.

I am told that in WW 2 telegraphists who had spent long hours on duty
suffered from what was colloquially called ≥Rats≤ i.e. auditory
My last contribuition is quite anecdotal, and a little light hearted but
I wonder if my experiences tall with those of other people.

It is widely said that cows lie down when it it going to rain.

Why do they do this?

Could it be that they feel something in their joints ?

Last week I made the 400 miles (640 km ?) train journey from Edinburgh
south to Gloucestershire.

In Scotland there were dark rain clouds; it was obvious that rain was
imminent. The cows were indeed lying down.

The further south we went the wetter it got, and my (!) how it was
raining in England. There however the cows were standing up.

Is this an original observation !

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