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Study finds relationship between rheumatoid arthritis and weather conditions

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A newly published study shows a link between low pressure systems and increases in rheumatoid arthritis pain and inflammation - something anecdotal evidence has strongly suggested for many years.

The analysis, published in the journal PLOS ONE, examined 12,061 evaluations of 326 arthritis patients in Japan. Scientists found that rheumatoid arthritis patients' reported levels of pain and inflammation were inversely associated with air pressure, meaning that air pressure went down, pain levels went up.

Previous studies of weather's effect on pain levels have produced mixed results. The authors of this study write that other analyses relied on groups of patients that were too small to arrive at convincing conclusions.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder characterized by joint pain and inflammation that often results in serious joint damage. Many such patients end up requiring artificial joint replacements at some point.

Air pressure, measured by weather forecasters with a barometer and sometimes referred to as "barometric pressure" or "atmospheric pressure," refers to the force exerted by air molecules, according to NASA.

While the study focused on air pressure, the scientists found that humidity also seemed to affect patients' pain levels.

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