Can Knee Swelling Predict Weather?

Can Knee Swelling Predict Weather?

May 8, 2013

“Kooky Uncle Jess’ knee is acting up again…”

“Yup, storm’s a-comin’.'”

You may have a quirky family member who predicts weather patterns like Uncle Jess, and who stands by their claim that a good ole fashion “nor’easter” is about to hit and ruin your family picnic.  As health-related myths are concerned, this one certainly has a lot of subscribers. But is it scientific?

We searched high and low for a study to validate or debunk this theory and found some interesting connections.

Dr James Fant, MD an Associate Professor of  Medicine and Rheumatology at the School of Medicine’s University Specialty Clinic weighed in on the subject.  He stated that there was “not a lot of scientific evidence to support the correlation between arthritic symptoms and the weather, but I’ve been practicing for nearly 20 years and I’ve heard it so often from so many patients that I know there’s something to it.”

It seems that knee arthritis symptoms are affected by weather, not necessarily that knee swelling is the prediction of bad weather. Dr. Timothy McAlindon, MD, MPH, Chief of Rheumatology and Professor of Medicine at Tufts University conducted a study involving 200 people with knee osteoarthritis with an average age of 60 living across the United States.  Researchers gathered weather conditions from weather stations located close to the study participants and found “that greater pain was associated with an increase in barometric pressure and with lower ambient temperature.”

Sometimes, changes in barometric pressure can cause knee swelling. This is due to less atmospheric pressure holding tissue back from swelling. Colder weather can also affect stiff or sore knee joints and cause increased knee pain; however, there has been no scientific study to connect knee or joint swelling with a coming weather pattern.

One thing we know for sure… knee exercises can help relieve your knee pain and get you back to enjoying the activities you want.

Perhaps it’s best to leave the meteorological prognostication to the weathermen and women.

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