Can your pain levels predict the weather?
Remember when your elders used to say a storm was brewing because they could feel it in their bones? New research suggests that they may have been on to something.
Chronic pain negatively impacts patients’ quality of life as pain can limit movement, resulting in reduced muscle and joint flexibility and strength.
More than 9,000 United Kingdom residents who suffer from arthritis or other chronic pain are recording their daily pain symptoms on a smart phone app. The app also captures the hourly weather conditions using the smartphone’s GPS, allowing researchers to compare the pain data with real-time local weather.
While the 18-month study is only half complete, the research team has reviewed the interim data, and it suggests there is a link between weather conditions and pain.
Preliminary results show that as the number of sunny days increased from February to April, the amount of time spent in severe pain decreased. However, the amount of time spent in severe pain increased again in June when the weather was wetter and there were fewer hours of sunshine.
“Once the link is proven, people will have the confidence to plan their activities in accordance with the weather,” researcher Will Dixon said in a press release. “In addition, understanding how weather induces pain will allow medical researchers to explore new pain interventions and treatments.”
Dr. John Hong, a pain management specialist at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill, says there appears to anecdotally be a link between pain level and changes in the weather for his patients.
“This time of year in particular, we all seem to be human weather stations,” says Hong. “It could be related to weather dependent changes in our mood or activity level. Or it may also be related to changes in humidity, temperature and barometric pressure.”
Researchers from the Cloudy with a Chance of Pain project hope to use the data to develop “pain forecasts” based on weather predictions.
About the Author
Johnna Kelly, healthe news contributor, is a manager of public affairs and marketing at Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove. She is a former newspaper reporter and spent nearly 10 years as a public relations professional working for state and county government. During her time as a communications staffer for the Illinois General Assembly, she was integral in drafting and passing legislation creating Andrea's Law, the nation's first murderer registry. In her spare time, she volunteers at a local homeless shelter, enjoys traveling, photography and watching the Chicago Bulls.