Many of our readers had strong objections to a recent story we reported on a Dutch study that found weather conditions had no impact on fibromyalgia pain and fatigue in women.
The study was published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, the official journal of the American College of Rheumatology.
“I don’t know about the Dutch, but I’m an American from Texas, and I can tell you I have pain every time the weather changes. I can’t believe they are publishing this in the journal Arthritis Care and Research!! This is only going to push back all the hard work we have done in trying to get more research for fibromyalgia. I am so mad!” is how reader Penny Simpson feels.
And Penny’s not alone.
“This is ridiculous. I’d love for whoever did this study to live in my body for a year through each season, cold, rain, and heat and tell me that weather doesn’t affect it. Not only does cold and nasty weather make my pain worse but heat makes me physically sick,” said Denise.
“Sorry, but I just don’t believe this. I can normally tell what the weather is before I even got out of bed,” wrote Anne Adams.
“I have been challenged with fibro for 19 years. Anyone that knows me knows I can feel atmospheric pressure 12 hours before bad weather hits,” wrote Shana N.
“I guess my rheumatologist is a liar and so am I. My body is so in tune to the weather,” said Emily Greer.
Several readers also pointed out that the Netherlands has a maritime climate, where weather variations are not as extreme as they would be in the American Midwest. They also questioned the size and scope of the study, which involved 333 female patients studied over a period of 28 days.
“And what time of year was the study done? It depends on the season and where the patient lives. Some days are fine, but today we have a hurricane moving in (and) my hands are killing me, my head is pounding. Weather related for sure, I can feel it as it gets closer,” said Debby.
We asked researchers at Utrecht University in the Netherlands for a response to our readers’ concerns and received a lengthy reply (which can be found here).
“It was not our intention to challenge the beliefs of people. We wanted to examine in a scientific way a phenomenon that has been experienced so often by people with fibromyalgia,” said Ercolie Bossema, PhD, in an email to National Pain Report.
“Our analyses of daily symptoms reports of more than 300 people with fibromyalgia showed more evidence against than in support of an influence of specific weather conditions on daily symptoms of pain and fatigue. However, our findings do not rule out that a relation between the weather and symptoms hold for a specific individual.”
Bossema said she and her colleagues don’t want to challenge the beliefs or experiences of fibromyalgia patients, but they do want to find a scientific basis for them. And for now, they say, the evidence linking fibromyalgia to weather is lacking.
Penny Simpson says she has all the evidence she needs.
“I am a human barometer, I can tell you a storm is coming before the meteorologist know it!!”