The weather's not to blame for your aches and pains

January 10, 2017
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

New research from The George Institute for Global Health has revealed the weather plays no part in the symptoms associated with either back pain or osteoarthritis.

It's long been thought episodes of both back and arthritis can be triggered by changes in the , including temperature, humidity, , and precipitation.

Professor Chris Maher, of The George Institute for Global Health, said: "The belief that pain and inclement weather are linked dates back to Roman times. But our research suggests this belief may be based on the fact that people recall events that confirm their pre-existing views.

"Human beings are very susceptible so it's easy to see why we might only take note of pain on the days when it's cold and rainy outside, but discount the days when they have symptoms but the weather is mild and sunny."

Almost 1000 people with lower back pain, and around 350 with were recruited for the Australian-based studies. 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 pain with weather conditions one week and one month before the onset of pain as a control measure.

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

The findings reinforce earlier research on back pain and inclement weather from The George Institute which received widespread criticism from the public on social media.

Professor Maher, who led the back pain study, added: "People were adamant that adverse weather conditions worsened their symptoms so we decided to go ahead with a new study based on data from new patients with both and osteoarthritis. The results though were almost exactly the same - there is absolutely no link between pain and the weather in these conditions."

Back pain affects up to a third of the world's population at any one time, (1) whilst almost 10 per cent of men and 18 percent of women over the age of 60 have osteoarthritis (2).

Associate Professor Manuela Ferreira, who led the osteoarthritis research at The George Institute, said: "People who suffer from either of these conditions should not focus on the weather as it does not have an important influence on your symptoms and it is outside your control."

A/Prof Ferreira, Senior Research Fellow at The George Institute and at the Institute of Bone and Joint Research, added: "What's more important is to focus on things you can control in regards to managing pain and prevention."

The studies were carried out across Australia with average daily temperatures ranging from 5.4C to 32.8C.

Explore further: Low back pain? Don't blame the weather

More information: Keira Beilken et al, Acute Low Back Pain? Do Not Blame the Weather—A Case-Crossover Study, Pain Medicine (2016). DOI: 10.1093/pm/pnw126

Related Stories

Low back pain? Don't blame the weather

July 10, 2014
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 ...

Lumbopelvic stabilization training therapeutic for LBP

January 5, 2017
(HealthDay)—For patients with chronic nonspecific low back pain conditions, lumbopelvic stabilization training (LPST) has a therapeutic effect on pain modulation, according to a study published online Jan. 2 in Pain Practice.

Link between weather and chronic pain is emerging through an innovative national smartphone research project

September 7, 2016
Preliminary findings from a mass participation study have indicated a link between weather conditions - specifically rain and lack of sunshine - and chronic pain.

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 ...

Flashes of inspiration needed to solve weather and pain mystery

June 10, 2016
The University of Manchester team behind a ground-breaking study recording how thousands of people with chronic pain react to the weather is seeking help from the public to come up with explanations for the results.

Women with knee osteoarthritis experience greater pain sensitivity than men

October 5, 2015
Among patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, women experienced greater sensitivity to various pain modalities—such as lower tolerance to heat, cold, and pressure—and greater widespread pain than men.

Recommended for you

Researchers developing new tool to distinguish between viral, bacterial infections

July 28, 2017
Antibiotics are lifesaving drugs, but overuse is leading to one of the world's most pressing health threats: antibiotic resistance. Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center are developing a tool to help physicians ...

Finish your antibiotics course? Maybe not, experts say

July 27, 2017
British disease experts on Thursday suggested doing away with the "incorrect" advice to always finish a course of antibiotics, saying the approach was fuelling the spread of drug resistance.

Co-infection with two common gut pathogens worsens malnutrition in mice

July 27, 2017
Two gut pathogens commonly found in malnourished children combine to worsen malnutrition and impair growth in laboratory mice, according to new research published in PLOS Pathogens.

Phase 3 trial confirms superiority of tocilizumab to steroids for giant cell arteritis

July 26, 2017
A phase 3 clinical trial has confirmed that regular treatment with tocilizumab, an inhibitor of interleukin-6, successfully reduced both symptoms of and the need for high-dose steroid treatment for giant cell arteritis, the ...

A large-scale 'germ trap' solution for hospitals

July 26, 2017
When an infectious airborne illness strikes, some hospitals use negative pressure rooms to isolate and treat patients. These rooms use ventilation controls to keep germ-filled air contained rather than letting it circulate ...

Researchers report new system to study chronic hepatitis B

July 25, 2017
Scientists from Princeton University's Department of Molecular Biology have successfully tested a cell-culture system that will allow researchers to perform laboratory-based studies of long-term hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections. ...

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.