Weather Conditions "Do Not Affect Low Back Pain"

A new study from Australia has cast doubt on the common belief that back pain can be influenced or exacerbated by changes in weather conditions.

Published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, the University of Sydney study examined data from 993 patients seen at primary care clinics in Sydney between October 2011 and November 2012.

Weather data from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology were sourced for the duration of the study period, with researchers comparing weather patterns at the time patients first noticed back pain with conditions one week and one month before the onset of pain.

The results showed no relevant association between back pain and temperature, humidity, air pressure, wind direction or precipitation. Although higher wind speeds and gusts did appear to slightly increase the chances of lower back pain, the margin of this increase was not deemed to be clinically important.

It is not unusual for people with musculoskeletal pain to report that their symptoms are influenced by the weather, with previous studies having suggested that cold or humid weather, or shifting climate patterns can increase chronic pain symptoms.

However, there have been few robust studies investigating weather and pain, specifically in terms of studies that do not rely on patient recollections of the weather in lieu of more reliable data.

Dr Daniel Steffens, of the George Institute for Global Health at the University of Sydney, said: "Our findings refute previously held beliefs that certain common weather conditions increase risk of lower back pain. Further investigation of the influence of weather parameters on symptoms associated with specific diseases such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are needed."

A spokeswoman for Arthritis Research UK said: "Many people with arthritis feel that changes in the weather affect the level of pain they feel. However, arthritis and musculoskeletal pain occurs in all climates and although the weather may affect the symptoms of their arthritis or the way they feel, it won't cause the condition or affect the way it develops."

 

Source: arthritisresearchuk.org

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