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Can climate and environment affect osteoarthritis?

Q) My son suffers from a serious back injury sustained while serving in the army. He's had several operations and was told that, in the future, he may well suffer from arthritis in his spine as a result.

Is there an area of the country that has a lower incidence of the disease or does climate and the environment have no bearing?
Susan (Spring 2018)

A) I’m sorry to hear about your son’s injury. The risk of osteoarthritis in a joint is increased when you have a history of injury to that joint, including the spine. Moving to a different location with a different climate won’t alter the risk of developing osteoarthritis or slow the progression of the disease.

The debate around whether warm climates improve symptoms of osteoarthritis, such as stiffness and pain, continues. Warm weather may have a small impact on improving symptoms, but unfortunately it doesn’t stop you from getting the condition.

This answer was provided by Dr Tom Margham for the Spring 2018 edition of our magazine, Arthritis Today, and was correct at the time of publication.

Send your questions for Dr Tom Margham to

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