Does the Weather Affect Pain?

To some this may sound silly, to others it will ring a bell, but some research has just been concluded which may have finally found an answer to the above.

It’s a question we have asked for thousands of years. Does the weather affect our levels of suffering? We know this because Hippocrates is recorded wondering about it. But, despite the age of the question, we haven’t been able to provide a conclusive answer.

However, a study undertaken by the University of Manchester on behalf of the charity Versus Arthritis, has found that there is a “significant yet modest relationships between pain and relative humidity, pressure and wind speed”.

The data was collected from 13,000 patients over a 15-0month period, which is a much larger sample size than previous studies (typically under 100 people) which means that the results are in theory much more reliable and conclusive.

Each participant was a sufferer of long-term pain, suffering from issues such as arthritis and fibromyalgia.

The study was simple in nature – every day participants logged their symptoms and how severe they were on an app on their phone. This then automatically synced with the weather reports taken from their GPS positioning.

Due to the number and frequency of inputs, researchers were able to analyse 5.1 million pain reports. They compared the weather on days when there was a significant pain increase to the weather on days when there was no such change.

They found days with higher humidity, lower pressure, and stronger winds – in that order – were more likely to be associated with high pain days.

While the cause-and-effect relationship has not been properly established, this evidence enables sufferers to plan exercise and other such activities around the weather, which could in turn improve their quality of life.

Another possible benefit of this study is that it gives scientists another data set and more research to draw on which will enable them to better understand the pain mechanism within the human body.

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