Can the weather influence the perception of pain?

The weather is changeable and often affects our well-being. Headache, lethargy, sometimes irritability … It turns out that certain types of weather can also increase pain in people suffering from arthritis or other conditions that cause chronic pain.

Surely everyone knows at least one person who once said that they feel bad weather in their bones. And there is something to it because humid and windy weather can make the pain worse for some people.

Scientists from the University of Manchester in the UK have published the results of a study that reveals a link between feeling of chronic pain and humid, windy days with low atmospheric pressure.

Folk beliefs supported by science

The lead author of the study, Professor Will Dixon, director of the Center for Epidemiology versus Arthritis at the University of Manchester, says the effect of weather on pain in arthritis patients has been known since the time of Hippocrates. It is said that as many as three-quarters of people with arthritis believe that the weather affects how well they feel pain.

Over 13,000 people living in different areas of Great Britain participated in the said study. The participants in this six-month study were mainly people with arthritis.

Scientists collected the data using a smartphone app that they developed specifically for the study. Each participant used it to report pain levels on a daily basis, while the app recorded the weather in their area using the GPS on their phone.

“Windy” pain

Analysis of the results of the study showed that humid and windy days and those with low atmospheric pressure increase the likelihood of more pain compared to an average day by about 20%.

Interestingly, the influence of rainfall or air temperature on pain perception was not recorded. Higher temperature can be associated with greater pain if it is caused by steamy, stormy weather.

Professor Dixon suggests the study’s findings could lead meteorologists to predict pain along with predictions of air quality. This could help chronically ill people plan their activities for the day. If the weather were to make people feel worse, then they would perform slightly lighter activities, leaving the more demanding ones for days with average weather when they feel much better.

Summary

The weather can affect how you feel pain. Wet and windy days can be especially troublesome for people with arthritis, but not only that. The study is so interesting that it will certainly be developed to understand the causes and mechanisms that occur in our body in connection with changes in the environment.