MONDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Many rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients believe changes in the seasons trigger fluctuations in their symptoms, and now a study out of Japan appears to support that view.
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Specifically, the study found that the pain of RA rises as seasonal temperatures fall.
"Physicians can easily dismiss seasonal changes as having an impact on patients with rheumatoid arthritis yet, in reality, the differences in weather and climate are having an impact," researcher Dr. Noriko Iikuni, of the Institute of Rheumatology, Tokyo Women's Medical University, said in a prepared statement.
Her team reviewed data collected from more than 1,800 RA patients between October 2001 and April 2004. The volunteers averaged nearly 58 years in age and had suffered from RA for an average of over 10 years.
The study looked at the patients' disease activity, score, tender joint count, swollen joint count, health assessment questions, pain scale, laboratory test results that indicated amount of pain and inflammation, and response to treatment.
Both subjective and objective results indicated that the RA patients experienced a significant decrease in RA activity from spring to fall, and an equally marked increase from fall to spring.
"For the majority of rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, the period between fall to spring will give rise to more problems whereas symptoms will ease between the spring and fall. Awareness of this very real influence on these patients should play a role in more effective treatment management," Iikuni said.
The findings were to be presented Monday at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, in San Diego.
-- Robert Preidt
SOURCE: American College of Rheumatology, news release, Nov. 13, 2005
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