Low back pain? Don't blame the weather

July 10, 2014, Wiley
Cloud in Nepali sky. Credit: Wikipedia

Australian researchers reveal that sudden, acute episodes of low back pain are not linked to weather conditions such as temperature, humidity, air pressure, wind direction and precipitation. Findings published in Arthritis Care & Research, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), indicate that the risk of low back pain slightly increases with higher wind speed or wind gusts, but was not clinically significant.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) nearly everyone experiences at some point in their life, making it the most prevalent musculoskeletal condition and affecting up to 33% of the world population at any given time. Those with musculoskeletal (bone, muscle, ligament, tendon, and nerve) pain report that their symptoms are influenced by the weather. Previous studies have shown that cold or humid weather, and changes in the weather increase symptoms in patients with chronic pain conditions.

"Many patients believe that weather impacts their pain symptoms," explains Dr. Daniel Steffens with the George Institute for Global Health at the University of Sydney, Australia. "However, there are few robust studies investigating weather and pain, specifically research that does not rely on patient recall of the weather."

For the present case-crossover study 993 patients seen at primary care clinics in Sydney were recruited between October 2011 and November 2012. Weather data from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology were sourced for the duration of the study period. Researchers compared the weather at the time patients first noticed back pain (case window) with weather conditions one week and one month before the onset of pain (control windows).

Results showed no association between back pain and temperature, humidity, , or . However, higher wind speed and wind gusts did slightly increase the chances of lower back pain, but the amount of increase was not clinically important.

"Our findings refute previously held beliefs that certain common weather conditions increase risk of lower back pain," concludes Dr. Steffens. "Further investigation of the influence of weather parameters on symptoms associated with specific diseases such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis are needed."

Explore further: Weather conditions do not affect fibromyalgia pain or fatigue

More information: "Weather Does Not Affect Back Pain: Results from a Case-Crossover Study." Daniel Steffens, Chris G. Maher, Qiang Li, MBiostat, Manuela L. Ferreira, Leani S.M. Pereira, Bart W. Koes and Jane Latimer. Arthritis Care and Research; Published Online: July 10, 2014 DOI: 10.1002/acr.22378

Related Stories

Weather conditions do not affect fibromyalgia pain or fatigue

June 4, 2013
Dutch researchers report that weather conditions including temperature, sunshine, and precipitation have no impact on fibromyalgia symptoms in female patients. Results published in Arthritis Care & Research, a journal of ...

Cold weather hits fibromyalgia sufferers hard

January 31, 2014
Cold temperatures, such as those gripping the Midwest over the past week, are tough on everybody. But for individuals with fibromyalgia, whose symptoms include chronic, widespread pain, the big freeze is especially difficult ...

Could restless sleep cause widespread pain in older folks?

February 13, 2014
Researchers in the U.K. report that non-restorative sleep is the strongest, independent predictor of widespread pain onset among adults over the age of 50. According to the study published in Arthritis & Rheumatology (formerly ...

Understanding and managing chronic pain

July 4, 2014
Acupuncture, exercise and massage and physical therapy are among the ways to deal with chronic pain that don't require narcotic painkillers, says Nancy Elder, MD, professor of family and community medicine at the University ...

Back pain improves in first six weeks but lingering effects at one year

May 14, 2012
For people receiving health care for acute and persistent low-back pain, symptoms will improve significantly in the first six weeks, but pain and disability may linger even after one year, states a large study published in ...

Doctors should give greater weight to the effects of low back pain on patients' social lives

March 31, 2014
The way that back pain is assessed and treated needs to change to take into account its impact on the social lives of sufferers, according to a new Arthritis Research UK-funded study.

Recommended for you

More doctor visits lead to less suicide attempts for fibromyalgia patients

September 19, 2018
Fibromyalgia patients who regularly visit their physicians are much less likely to attempt suicide than those who do not, according to a new Vanderbilt University Medical Center study published in Arthritis Care & Research.

Antioxidant found to be effective in treating mice with osteoarthritis

September 14, 2018
A team of researchers in Belgium and the Netherlands has found that feeding a common antioxidant to test mice was effective in treating osteoarthritis. In their paper published in Science Translational Medicine, the group ...

Researchers find answers as to why some people are at risk of gout

September 12, 2018
University of Otago researchers have helped characterise a genetic variant that enables new understanding of why some people are at risk of gout, a painful and debilitating arthritic disease.

Emotions like anger and sadness may cause pain as well as being a result of it

September 10, 2018
While emotions such as anger or sadness are often thought of as being a result of stress or pain, findings recently published by Penn State researchers suggest that negative or mixed emotions could function as stressors themselves.

Dietary carbohydrates could lead to osteoarthritis, new study finds

August 9, 2018
Do your knees ache? According to new findings from the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, your diet could be a culprit.

Joint study raises questions about treatments for arthritis

August 3, 2018
A study examining how molecules are transported into knee-joint tissue could have major implications for understanding and treating arthritis.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.