Monday, July 11, 2011

The Pressure Cooker: ABC's of RA and barometric pressure

The weather is a changing and I know.  I would know if my eyes were closed, my ears blocked from hearing….my joints just seem to know. So as the weather here in southeastern NC begins to rumble and roll….my joints begin to ache. 

It is like a clock for me but one that I have yet to completely understand how to read.  I do know that when I lived in sunny southern California where the weather tends to be more stable, my joint pain didn't fluctuate as much. But this isn't to say that sunny California is a place we should all take up residency in.  

That is where I was first diagnosed with ra and where for 1 1/2 years straight my joints screamed constantly.  Oh well…so much for that theory.  But on the flip side, when I have visited California, I do notice my joints don't flip/flop with the weather as much. Could be a placebo effect but I do enjoy the reprieve when I get it.  My Mom always told me, "Never look a gift horse in the mouth." So I don't.  Could be because I always believed and wanted to reply but didn't, "Because she will bite you. Right?"

Medicine Net seemed to have the best overall review of this topic:
"First, there hasn't been much real research science. In 1961, a famous arthritis specialist, J. Hollander M.D., conducted a study in which he built a climate chamber and demonstrated that high humidity combined with low barometric pressure were associated with increased joint pain and stiffness. Neither weather factor by itself seemed to influence joint symptoms. The study has been criticized because of the limited number of patients evaluated (12 patients). The theory of the study is that inflamed joints swell as the barometric pressure drops. This swelling irritates the nerves around the joints that sense pain and causes more stiffness."

And looking out on the great Internet there isn't much more scientific research that has been done on this topic. So I am left to my own non-scientific evaluation to try and come up with what do I feel when the weather changes, particularly wet, hot, stormy weather.

Not very good is all I can say!

And from Medicine Net Directly:
"The bottom line is that while the exact cause(s) of the activation of arthritis symptoms may not yet be scientifically understood, each patient must make lifestyle and/or medication adjustments according to the particular weather conditions that they note influence their symptoms."

Does this mean I am due another vacation trip to check out my hypothesis?

Further reading if you are interested:
Full article on Medicine Net: Whether Weather Affects Arthritis