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Study suggests that rain might make pain worse

How many times have we heard someone say that bad weather makes their chronic aches and pains worse? Or that they can tell that a storm's coming because they can "feel it in their bones".

While it may have been dismissed as an old wives’ tale, the preliminary results of a major new study suggest that there might be something in it.

Cloudy with a chance of pain

Cloudy with a chance of pain is the world's first smartphone-based study to investigate the association between weather and symptoms of pain. It’s seeking to understand the influences that changes in the weather have on pain in an attempt to improve medical research into pain treatments.

Anyone who suffers from arthritis or chronic pain, lives in the UK, and has a smartphone, can take part in the 18-month project. So far, at around the halfway point, more than 9,000 people have been logging their symptoms on a daily basis using the smartphone app. It also monitors the weather conditions every hour, allowing scientists to match the resulting data.

Rain and pain, go away

Researchers looked specifically at a group of 100 participants in Leeds, Norwich and London. From February to June, they found that as the number of sunny days increased, the amount of time that people experienced severe pain fell. During a wet period in June, the level of pain increased.

Professor Will Dixon from Salford Royal hospital is leading the research. In a Telegraph article on the subject, he states that 80 percent of his patients believe that there is a link between the weather and the pain they experience. Some even claimed to be able to predict the weather based on their symptoms. They are now exploring the effect of everything from the levels of air pressure, temperature, moisture and sunshine.

A healthy forecast

Hippocrates’ noticed this effect in his book, “On Airs, Waters and Places” back in 400BC. Professor Dixon believes that we may be close to finally proving the relationship between rain and pain, allowing medical researchers to explore new pain interventions and treatments.

With chronic pain a major cause of workplace absence, any research that seeks to improve pain treatments for people with ongoing health issues could have positive implications on absence management and occupational health in the future.

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Tags: rain makes pain worse

Categories: Absence ManagementHealth & WellbeingOccupational Health

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