Link between Weather and Chronic Pain Emerging through Smartphone App Research

Link between Weather and Chronic Pain Emerging through Smartphone App Research

Back in February, we covered a story about a new app called “Cloudy with a Chance of Pain” that was developed by the University of Manchester with the purpose of collecting mass data on the relationship between weather and pain.

The brainchild of Dr. Will Dixon, the app is a “big citizen science experiment where anyone can explore the data and try and spot patterns and relationships in the data. We’ll gather ideas and theories from everyone to come up the best possible conclusion,” Dr. Dixon stated.

Now, there are some preliminary findings from the mass participation study and they indicate a link between weather conditions – specifically rain and lack of sunshine – and chronic pain.

Daily data inputted from over 9,000 UK participants has been viewed at the halfway stage of the 18-month study.  The early results suggest a correlation between the number of sunny days and rainfall levels and changes in pain levels.

The researchers looked at data sets from Leeds, Norwich and London. Across all three cities, 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. In addition, understanding how weather influences pain will allow medical researchers to explore new pain interventions and treatments.

“To work out the details of how weather influences pain, we need as many people as possible to participate in the study and track their symptoms on their smartphone”.

“If you are affected by chronic pain, this is your chance to take do something personally – and easily – to lead to a breakthrough in our understanding of pain.”

Does weather seem to impact your chronic pain?

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Authored by: Staff

There are 11 comments for this article
  1. Jean Price at 11:26 pm

    I would think sunniness is a little hard to accurately measure, unlike barametric pressure! I imagine pain is definitively tied to pressure changes and for those of us with metal implants, colder weather can give more bone pain because metal expands with cold. (At least that’s what an orthopedic doc told me years ago!) Circadian rhythm and pressure changes affect many body functions and systems, so little wonder there is correlating evidence. Now what to do with it? Plan around it? Well, if you go by our weather guys…good luck with that! They are wrong over 50% of the time, I think!

  2. Evie at 8:52 am

    Joy, I thought I was the only one! The formulation of the brand of short-acting opioid medication I had been taking for years suddenly changed dramatically although the manufacturer is not admitting it. I experienced a host of such bizarre side effects. Now I am on name brand but there is something weird about them too. I am actually a little scared about what the ingredients might be. These meds are not the same anymore!

  3. Chrissie Stevens at 8:01 pm

    How do I sign up for this study? I live close to Edmonton, Alberta where our weather goes through many changes from +35 to -40 Celsius over the year. Our months are never reliable indicators of sun, rain, snow or clouds; since they’ve been recording weather, it has snowed in every month. We get lovely cloud-free sunny days in the middle of winter. Our motto here is; if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes.

    These weather variations does my husband’s or my own pain-wracked body no good. Then we discovered that Arizona worked wonders on our pain so we bought a house there. We are now 1of the 10,000s of “snowbirds” who migrate south in October, and on. We try to stay as long as allowed, which is 6 months, returning to Canada when the weather ought to be warmer. Our pain is noticeably better, we take fewer pain control medications; however, during the cool months of December & January, (yes, it can freeze in the Sonoran desert) we notice spikes in our pain levels. I would like to be able to contribute our experiences between 2 vastly different climates & our related pains.

    However, the CDC guidelines (recently adopted in Alberta) are making our upcoming trip into a hardship. Will we be able to take our 6 month supply of opioid based medication over the border? Will our doctor be allowed to prescribe for that length of time? (Even though for the past 6 years we’ve never had problems & have always had proper documentation from our doctor) But that is a different story, which I’d love to share with you sometime.

  4. Joy at 7:56 pm

    I wish that the politics and non-treatment of medically necessary opiate medications for chronic pain were as simple as a weather report, but the facts here are more related to suicide rather than weather concerning this subject.

    I am outraged by the censorship, lies, and lack of publicity concerning this emergency; that I need to contact my congressman as to why I can’t seem to have a medically necessary prescription filled with a brand name because the chemistry of the drug required has been altered, reconfigured, and semantically twisted beyond comprehension.

    I have both chronic pain and ADHD diagnoses. Last year, for the first time in my life, I returned 4 ADHD medications and 2 opiate pain medications. After the Healthcare Reform Act and resulting “shortages” my life has been an endless hell, as my monthly purpose has been to [a], locate a pharmacy that has a brand name for a common pain med, and [b], to receive an authentic ADHD medication, [I have not had my ADHD medication for over 1 year].

    I would appreciate any feedback from others who can relate to my experience.

  5. Tootie Welker at 4:31 pm

    Most definitely my pain is effected by the weather. I’ve had multiple wrist surgeries that has led to it being fused. It always hurts more when it’s cloudy and rainy out. I’ve also 4 back surgeries and am fused from L2 down and both SI joints. I also have much higher pain (and I live in Montana so I deal with it for many months). This study would also be helpful in supporting the need for an increase in pain meds to help relieve the increase in pain levels. I’ve always gotten headaches when the barometric pressure drops….I used to live with a sailor and he said I’d be great on a boat helping to predict storms before they arrive by the pressure in my head.

  6. HAZZY at 10:17 am

    IF YOU HAVE CHRONIC PAIN, LIKE I DO, WHEN THE BARAMETRIC PRESSURE CHANGES, MY CHRONIC PAIN GETS WORSE. THIS IS TRUE !!!!!!

  7. Michael G Langley, MD at 9:11 am

    Being a physician, trained in pain management, as well as being a board certified surgeon who suffers from chronic pain, I tend to agreed with the anecdotal reports, that many of us seemed to have suffered, with weather changes. Sadly, I remember seeing a recent article on the Internet that stated just the opposite. When are we going to figure it out?!

  8. Angel at 8:26 am

    I will be signing up! Weather impacts my pain substantially. Unfortunately sunny days aggravate existing headaches and heat exasperates tissue swelling for me. It’s not just the rainy days and barometric pressure changes as we hear about. Hopefully this study with glean definitive results that weather impacts pain. Thank you Pain Report for all your hard work!

  9. JRL at 6:56 am

    The weather affects my pain levels. A sudden drop in temperature will cause the most severe pain and I always know when they are coming.

  10. Grace from Australia at 6:15 am

    I don’t need an app for that. My body tells me what the weather will be. 🙂

  11. connie at 4:30 am

    I think that a link between the weather and pain has already been proven by almost anyone who has had a broken bone though I am not so sure about linking pain level to the amount of actual sunshine. Here in interior Alaska we have months of 24 hour daylight and while cooler and/or damp weather will generally cause a rise in my pain level actual sunshine doesn’t seem to improve it. We go “outside”for at least a week every year and for some reason I always feel better even if it’s cold and rainy. I fear that if this correlation is proven it will cause a stronger belief that pain is all in our heads. I admit to feeling emotionally better when the sun is shining brightly but physically my pain level can be, and often is, just as high or higher. We plan on moving to the high desert of southern Oregon in the spring and it will be interesting to see if I feel better in the long run.