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