I’ve written about the correlation between weather and arthritis in a few of my past posts, but felt the need to bring it up again since we’ve had record breaking weather conditions in Chicago and I’m feeling really crappy today. After two weeks of 70+ degree weather in Chicago this March (and feeling just freaking fantastic), it’s barely reaching 50 degrees on this dreary Monday… Translation = I could barely get out of bed this morning. My knees are tender, my feet and knuckles are swollen, my back hurts, my hips are barely holding my legs to my torso. Seriously though, my boring list of aches and pains could go on for ages. But rather than ponder them further, I took a shower and schlepped my way to work this morning.
Why do my Rheumatologists never talk about weather and Rheumatoid arthritis? I know there has to be a relationship between the two. Maybe not for everyone, but definitely for this 30 year old stuck in a 50 year old’s body.
The cool people at Weather.com offer us an “Aches & Pains” index which gives users a sliding scale to help identify when they might want to stay in bed due to unseasonably achy weather. 10 means “Don’t even think about leaving your house today!” While 0 means “Go for a jog, climb a mountain, do everything you’ve ever wanted to do… while you can”. So check out the site before planning a big event, getaway, etc. It could help you prepare for the best… or the worst.
And in case you were curious, below is the methodology for the “Aches & Pains” index at weather.com.
Aches & Pains Index Methodology
This index forecasts the potential for weather-related aches and pains, especially in people with chronic health conditions (such as migraines or arthritis) that might make them sensitive to changes in weather conditions. “10” represents the highest risk of weather-related aches and pains. “1” represents the lowest risk.
The Aches & Pains Index is calculated using barometric pressure, absolute humidity, chance of precipitation, temperature and wind. Areas of quiet, dry weather during warmer times of the year are generally associated with lower levels of aches and pains. Approaching areas of low pressure or strong frontal systems, both leading to stormy weather, may cause higher levels of aches and pains.
The scale for the Aches & Pains Index is: Very High (9, 10), High (7, 8), Moderate (5, 6), Low (3, 4), Minimal (1, 2)
Chance of Precipitation
Precipitation includes not only rain, but also snow, sleet, hail or any other form of water that reaches the ground. It is considered a factor in aches and pains because rainy weather accompanies changes in barometric pressure and humidity. For those who are sensitive to hot weather, rain can cool the atmosphere and may bring some relief.
Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. An increase in absolute humidity (the amount of water vapor per unit of air), especially in the summer, is commonly associated with an increased potential for aches and pains. Some research also finds a correlation between dry, cold air and migraine headaches.
The four levels of the Humidity Change scale are: Steady, Slight, Moderate, Significant
Rapidly rising or falling temperatures are a hallmark of big weather changes, indicating underlying shifts in barometric pressure. Extremes in temperature, not just changing temperatures, can also affect the potential for feeling aches and pains. Low temperatures may trigger migraine headaches, exacerbate circulatory conditions and contribute to arthritic joint stiffness. Cold weather has also been associated with an increase in asthma-related hospital admissions.
The four levels of the Temperature Change scale are: Steady, Slight, Moderate, Significant