New App: “Cloudy with a Chance of Pain” to Gather Data Connecting Weather and Pain

New App: “Cloudy with a Chance of Pain” to Gather Data Connecting Weather and Pain

It’s not uncommon to hear someone predict foul weather because their joints start to hurt.

cloudy with a chance of pain logoNow, researchers from the University of Manchester have launched a smartphone app in an effort to collect mass data on the relationship between weather and pain.

The app, called Cloudy with a Chance of Pain, will be used to carry out a study during 2016 using a smartphone platform called uMotif. Users record how they’re feeling, while local weather data is automatically collected using the phone’s GPS.

Dr. Will Dixon, Director of The University of Manchester’s Arthritis Research UK Centre for Epidemiology and Honorary Consultant Rheumatologist at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, came up with the idea.

“This question has been around for more than 2,000 years, but it’s only now with widespread modern technology that we have the ability to answer it,” he said in a statement.

“And we’re not just inviting people to submit data – we want their ideas about the association between weather and pain too. We will be running 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.”

Study participants will record their symptoms every day, and local weather data will be simultaneously recorded with it.

Cloudy with a Chance of Pain App

App tracks symptoms.

The website, www.cloudywithachanceofpain.com allows anyone to view and explore the data and even submit ideas.

The study will be conducted through January 2017, when the researchers will begin formal analyses and they hope they will be able to generate what they call, “Pain Forecasts.”

Once the project ends in January 2017, the research team will also carry out a formal analysis and hope to use the information for generating pain forecasts, allowing people to plan their weekly activities.

“Many people with arthritis believe that changes in the weather affect the level of pain they experience, however there is currently no scientific evidence to support this relationship,” said Stephen Simpson, Director of Research & Programmes at Arthritis Research UK.

“This exciting study will for the first time enable us to investigate the link between pain and the weather. We’re delighted to support this project and we hope that the use of the uMotif app will help encourage a wide group of participants to take part, both in terms of submitting their data but also examining the results themselves to help our scientists reach a conclusion,” Simpson added.

For now, the study is limited to people 17 years old and older in the UK.

Images from Cloudy with a Chance of Pain website.

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Authored by: Staff

There are 4 comments for this article
  1. Kristine (Krissy) at 11:31 am

    Barometric Pressure is psychic!

  2. Gracie Bagosy-Young at 7:15 am

    This is wonderful! Sure wish you would expand this beyond just the UK though. There are many people all over the world willing and eager to participate!

  3. Stephanie at 6:54 am

    “Many people with arthritis believe that changes in the weather affect the level of pain they experience, however there is currently no scientific evidence to support this relationship,” said Stephen Simpson, Director of Research & Programmes at Arthritis Research UK.

    Scientific studies are often the result of anecdotal evidence such as the quote reveals. My husband and I experience our own little scientific studies each morning when we wake up. We call them “n of 1” studies because we each study ourselves. If we wake up with more than the normal stiffness and reach for the light and experience stabbing pain in the hand that’s reaching, the next thing we reach for is our phone with the weather app., to check the barometric pressure. For me, if it drops below 30 I can expect to experience stabbing pains in my hands, wrists, feet, ankles, knees, lower back, and neck until the barometric pressure rises above 30 again. Then the pain level drops back to a dull ache. In cold weather it is more pronounced. We live at an altitude of over 4,300 feet, and when we go to sea level for 3-4 weeks, we experience very little pain. We are told its “just osteoarthritis” as though the pain should be minimal and fleeting. We are experiencing moderate to severe pain ALL the time. So, based on the results of our little “n of 1” studies, we are currently looking for a place to move that is at sea level and a warmer climate. I hate to leave my kids and grandkids, but we can’t get sufficient management of our pain here in the current “everyone who takes opioids is an addict; let’s not give them to anyone” environment. Since he is retired and my work appears inclined to let me telecommute, I’m very fortunate indeed. Were we to stay here, I would most likely need to retire early and during the winter join my husband on the couch in front of the TV, with the heat turned up to 78, and a variety of heating pads strategically placed all over my body. Normally we are two highly active people, fishing, camping, boating, motorcycling, and leading very active lives. I’m very happy to see this study being done. The results could give many people a lot of validation and provide doctors with some scientific basis for prescribing opioids for use on an intermittent basis, which is all we really need to maintain some semblance of our formerly normal life. It will be too late for us but provides a ray of hope for others in the same boat.

  4. Joy H Selak at 6:22 am

    This is very exciting. I have been diagnosed with mixed connective tissue disease, interstitial cystitis, trigeminal neuralgia and muniere’s. My health improved over many years and surgery for the TN in 2010 allowed a nearly complete recovery. Now, I identify barometric pressure changes, along with fatigue and stress, as the primary triggers to a flare in symptoms. My husband is a weather watcher and I often say to him–Honey, is a storm coming? My face hurts.
    Love to participate in this study and for so many to ultimately have the benefits of more control over their lives through the ‘pain forecast’. Thank you!!!