It has long been common knowledge that cold weather brings on arthritic pains – or at least increases them. But orthodox medicine always seems to think that it is competent to challenge first-hand knowledge and dismiss popularly held beliefs as “old wives tales” – even if they are rooted in human experience. A good example of this can be found in an article in the Mail Online a few years ago quoted a certain professor of musculoskeletal medicine at the University of Leeds who goes by the name of Philip Conaghan. He claimed that:
Scientific trials have failed to prove this. There is no evidence to show weather or climate has any effect on arthritis. OA occurs all over the world, in all types of climates.’
Now, whatever “scientific trials” may have “proved”, some of you may have noticed a flaw in the learned professor’s logic – at least in the way in which he presents his case. Because the issue is not whether or not osteoarthritis occurs in all types of climate, but rather whether it occurs with the same incidence in all climates.
And that is precisely the question that the Mail online article does not go into. So we must look elsewhere for an answer.
One good place to start might be this article on the website of the Arthritis Foundation:
Changes in temperature or barometric pressure, a measure that refers to the weight of the surrounding air, trigger joint pain, though researchers aren’t entirely sure why. In 2007, researchers at Tufts University in Boston reported that every 10-degree drop in temperature corresponded with an incremental increase in arthritis pain. Increasing barometric pressure was also a pain trigger in the Tufts study.
The article goes on to say:
In fact, studies in cadavers have found that barometric pressure affects pressure inside the joints. In one experiment, when pressure in the hip joints was equated with atmospheric pressure, it threw the ball of the hip joint about one-third of an inch off track.
This is quite strong evidence, coming – as it does – from the Arthritis Foundation. But the question is, if you suffer from arthritis, what can you do about it?
Magnetic therapy has been the subject of ongoing controversy. But the one area where conventional medicine appears to be ready to acknowledge – albeit grudgingly – that it works, is in providing pain relief for sufferers of osteoarthritis.
Indeed, a Randomised controlled trial of magnetic bracelets for relieving pain in osteoarthritis of the hip and knee, published by the British Medical Journal, states that:
We found evidence of a beneficial effect of magnetic wrist bracelets on the pain of osteoarthritis of the hip and knee. Self reported unblinding to treatment group did not substantially affect the results.
This is even stronger evidence than the Arthritis Foundation website. A peer-reviewed article in the BMJ is certainly not to be sneezed at, Furthermore, the study is extremely detailed and thorough, taking into account “blinding removal” – testing if the magnets are real or not. It clearly rules out the placebo effect.
Of particular interest is that it goes on to say that the treatment works better with stronger magnets.
Finally, the article notes that magnetic bracelets are cost-effective because they can be used in conjunction with other treatments and because the bracelets are a one-off purchase:
the effects seem additive to those of the participants’ usual treatment. The (one off) cost of bracelets (around £30-£50 ($58-$96, €43-€92)), compares well with that of analgesics (paracetamol £20 a year, newer non-steroidal anti-inflammatories £250 a year).
This would seem to pretty much wrap up the case. For someone suffering from osteoarthritis, it’s a no-brainer.
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