Do weather patterns influence chronic pain?

  • Scultz DM, et al.
  • Bull Am Meteorol Soc
  • 6 May 2020

  • curated by Pavankumar Kamat
  • UK Medical News
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A new study named 'Cloudy With a Chance of Pain' suggests potential associations between certain atmospheric weather conditions and chronic pain in individuals residing in the UK. The findings were published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

In a study funded by Versus Arthritis, researchers at the University of Manchester and their collaborators assessed 13,000 UK residents living with chronic-pain conditions for a period of 15 months. Participants recorded their daily pain intensity using a mobile app, which would then be linked to the prevailing weather data determined using GPS.

On days when the most number of people were in pain, the jet stream was directed right at the UK, with pressure over the nation being below normal (or low). Humidity and precipitation rates were above normal, and winds were stronger. Conversely, on days when the least number of people were in pain, the jet stream tended to blow north of the UK, with the pressure remaining above normal (or high). Humidity and precipitation rates appeared to be below normal, and winds were weaker.

Professor Will Dixon, one of the study collaborators, commented: "The belief by people living with long-term pain conditions, such as arthritis, that their pain is affected by the weather remains prevalent today, with about 75% of people with chronic pain believing this to be true. Yet, there is disagreement over what weather condition makes their pain worse."