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Keywords:

  • arthritis;
  • barometric pressure;
  • pain;
  • rheumatology;
  • weather sensitivity.

Abstract

Objective:  Many rheumatology patients report exacerbation of joint symptoms with weather changes. We report the first of a two-part study on the influence of weather on rheumatological conditions. This survey aims to describe perceived weather sensitivity in our patient population.

Methods:  Two hundred rheumatology patients seen consecutively in a tertiary hospital were given a 10-item questionnaire (Jamieson). This questionnaire has been well validated with good test-retest reliability (r = 0.91) and ability to distinguish patients with weather sensitivity. New patients and soft tissue clinic patients were not included.

Results:  Seventy-four percent of patients reported weather sensitivity, with humidity and low temperature reported most frequently as being associated with worsening of symptoms (66% and 72%, respectively). Seventy percent of weather sensitive subjects described pain exacerbation prior and/or during weather changes. Various rheumatological conditions had similar rates of weather sensitivity, except fibromyalgia which reported 100% weather sensitivity.

Conclusion:  A significant proportion of rheumatology patients report weather sensitivities. Further studies would be useful to further explore actual versus perceived effects of weather as this may have behavioural, housing and medical implications. Our discussion includes a brief summary of current literature and various postulates why patients may have increased weather sensitivity.