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Intense cold and low atmospheric pressure increase joint pain in rheumatic patients

2 Feb 2012

Faced with the wave of intense cold expected for today and the next few days, experts recommend applying local heat, walking or practice moderate exercise to improve joint mobilityOsteoarthritis affects more than seven million people in Spain. This disease is one of the most common causes of permanent incapacity to work.

Barcelona, February 2, 2012. Every winter, rheumatologists see how plummeting temperatures and changing weather causes an increase of joint pain in many patients. In recent years, the old saying “it is going to rain because my joints ache” has been given a scientific explanation: a paper elaborated by the Poal Institute of Rheumatology (Barcelona) and by the Joint Health Unit of Bioibérica Farma confirmed that arthritis and osteoarthritis patients are affected by changes in atmospheric pressure and temperature.

To be more precise, osteoarthritis patients experience increased joint pain when atmospheric pressure decreases (as happens, for instance, a few days before it rains), whereas patients of rheumatoid arthritis suffer from increased joint pain when temperatures descend.

‘Patients are right to complain’ says Dr. Ingrid Möller, rheumatologist and director of the Poal Institute from Barcelona. Dr. Möller says that approximately 50% of patients can forecast weather changes out of their pain. “Fortunately, although weather changes increases their feeling of pain, it does not worsens the disease”.

This is why it is important that, faced with the wave of cold weather announced for today and for the next few days, we should take measures to protect the life quality of osteoarthritis and arthritis patients. To improve symptoms, Dr. Möller recommends to ‘apply local heat to the painful area and to perform moderate exercise such as walking or swimming in order to stretch their joints”. On the other hand, she reminds us that there are drugs to treat osteoarthritis other than pain killers or anti-inflammatory drugs; they are the so called SYSADOAs, that improve the pain and functional capabilities of patients while still having excellent safety profiles.

Dr. Josep Vergés, clinical pharmacologist and medical and scientific director of Bioibérica FARMA, explains that “in the future, we will schedule non pharmacological and pharmacological treatments for patients depending on the weather forecast; that way, we will prevent the pain and loss of functional capability caused by these diseases, thus improving the patients’ quality of life”.

Study context and data
The study consisted of the daily monitoring of 92 patients affected by diverse rheuma pathologies. Their pain perceptions were compared to that of 42 healthy persons. The results of the study were published by Proceeding of the Western Pharmacology Society. 

According to the data made public by the Spanish Society of Rheumatology, by the clinical guidelines for osteoarthritis of the Sociedad Española de Médicos de Atención Primaria, (SEMERGEN) and by the EPISER 2000 study, some seven million Spaniards are affected by knee, hand or spinal osteoarthritis.

Weather conditions can influence rheumatic diseases. Proc.West.Pharmacol.Soc.47: 134-136 (2004) 

For further information, read interviews with Drs. Möller or Vergés, or interviews with patients, please contact:

Alba Soler
Bioberica Farma Communications Manager 

+34 682 040 776 or +34 93 490 49 08

Aina Mauri
+34 93 217 22 17