Cranky Knees and Hips? Don't Blame The Rain

Sep 29, 2017

After such a glorious summer in the Pacific Northwest, you might be gearing up for the achy joints that many people swear come with cold, wet weather. But a local researcher says your knees could actually get a break when the weather changes.

Scott Telfer is a UW Medicine professor who studies bones and joints. Telfer and other researchers analyzed data from Google searches on knee and hip pain. What he found runs counter to what many believe.  

Telfer says people are more apt to check the internet for knee and hip pain on warmer days. In fact, rain actually puts a damper on these searches.  

“As the weather gets nicer, people are more likely to get outside playing sports, going for a run, and this summer we’ve had in Seattle – I think everyone’s definitely been outside a lot more and trying to take advantage of the nice weather,” said Telfer.

And that physical activity might lead to overuse, causing joint pain. But Telfer says when it gets really hot, hip and knee pain searches tail off. That further bolsters the hypothesis, he says, because when it’s uncomfortably warm, people might decide to skip their daily run.

"We haven't found any direct mechanism that links ambient temperature with pain.  What we think is a much more likely explanation is the fact that people are more active on nice days, so more prone to have overuse and acute injuries from that and to search online for relevant information," said Telfer.

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