People with chronic pain conditions are more likely to suffer on days that are damp and windy, according to new research.
Researchers from the University of Manchester recruited more than 13,000 people from across the UK with long-term health conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain, to investigate whether bad weather can make pain worse.
Using a smartphone app developed by healthcare software company uMotif, participants were asked to record daily symptoms over the course of six months.
Meanwhile the local weather on each day was determined from location data provided by the smartphones’ GPS.
The results showed that people were 20 per cent more likely to suffer from pain on days when the weather was damp and windy with low atmospheric pressure.
However, pain didn’t increase for the participants on dry days or when there was either a change in temperature or rainfall.
The team state that the correlations remained even when accounting for mood and physical inactivity, which are considered to be additional factors that can contribute to pain levels.
Professor Will Dixon, who led the study, said: “Weather has been thought to affect symptoms in patients with arthritis since ancient Greek physician Hippocrates.
“Around three-quarters of people living with arthritis believe their pain is affected by the weather.”
Professor Dixon added that the research could help scientists explore why humidity is related to pain and “open the door to new treatments”.
He also believes the findings could help chronic pain patients develop a “pain forecast” that could allow them to forward plan activities.
Dr Stephen Simpson, from arthritis charity Versus Arthritis, said: “We know of the 10 million people in the UK with arthritis, over half experience life-altering pain every day.
“Supporting effective ways of self-managing pain can make all the difference for people with arthritis.”
Simpson added that self-management can help people “to get and stay in work, to be full members of the community and simply to belong”.
He hopes that the research will help scientists “understand the bigger picture of the complexity of pain”.
According to the British Pain Society, chronic pain affects more than two fifths of the UK population, meaning that around 28 million adults are living with pain that has lasted for three months or longer.