Science

VIDEO. Camille’s column: does rheumatism hurt more when it rains?

CJAMY. Camille Gaubert’s column is broadcast daily on the program “CJamy”, presented by Jamy Gourmaud, from Monday to Friday at 5 pm on France 5.

Ah, it’s going to rain“, sometimes say people with rheumatism while keeping their swollen joint. According to a study, their feeling is justified and rheumatism reacts well to the weather … But not to cold or to rain, contrary to popular belief .

An influence of mood?

Arthritis is inflammation of the joints. Most major studies note that the joints hurt more when the air is humid, according to Prof. Berenbaum, head of the rheumatology department in a Paris hospital. That said, finding a connection between pain and moisture doesn’t mean that one causes the other. For example, every year, the whole of France launches fireworks on St Camille’s Day, July 14, without it having any connection with the feast of the author of this article. So it could be that on wet days the joints are more painful just because when the weather is bad we tend to move less and get more depressed. However, prolonged inaction and mood have an influence on pain, recalls Professor Berenbaum.

An effect of atmospheric pressure, wind and relative humidity

But a very recent English study published in the journal Nature sheds new light on the problem. For 15 months, more than 2,600 people suffering from chronic pain were equipped with an app. Each day, they recorded their pain level, mood and physical activity. By crossing this data with the local weather forecast, the researchers concluded that their pain was not due to physical inactivity or depression. The real culprits were relative humidity, atmospheric pressure and wind speed, which increased the likelihood of pain by 20%! Relative humidity is the degree to which the air is saturated with water vapor in relation to the maximum of what it could absorb. However, this maximum absorption varies with temperature: hot air can assimilate more water before saturating than cold air.

On the other hand, contrary to popular belief, neither the rain nor the cold had a noticeable effect in themselves. Why this effect of humidity, pressure and wind on pain? Stimulation of pain neurons? A change in cartilage? No one knows yet.

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