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Shedding New Light on Chronic Pain Link to Weather

AROUND three-quarters of people living with arthritis believe their pain is affected by the weather,” explains Prof Will Dixon, University of Manchester, Manchester UK. Now, thanks to the results of a recent study, scientific evidence can support this long-held belief.  

For a study that examined data from >13,000 people from across the UK living with arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraine, or neuropathy, researchers developed a smartphone app that allowed users to record their pain levels on a daily basis. GPS systems simultaneously recorded weather conditions in the area where the user was based. The final dataset was taken from 2,658 participants who recorded daily stats for approximately 6 months.  

Damp, windy days with low pressure were linked to a 20% increased likelihood of experiencing pain compared to an average day; however, no connections were found between pain and rainfall, or pain and temperature. Humid, windy days that were also cold were found to be the most painful days, and as such pain caused by muggy, turbulent weather was worsened by temperature changes.  

This understanding, according to Prof Dixon, could allow meterologists to forecast which days will be likely to cause greater pain symptoms for patients, and as such, better planning will be possible for those who are living with these conditions so that activities that require more effort or concentration could be completed on days when pain levels are likely to be lower. It is Prof Dixon’s hope that the findings can be used by researchers to explore the causes and mechanisms behind chronic pain.