Readers Sound Off on Fibromyalgia Study

Readers Sound Off on Fibromyalgia Study

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.

bigstock-young-woman-shouting-with-a-me-33045809“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!!”

Authored by: Pat Anson, Editor

There are 7 comments for this article
  1. Rita from the Prairies at 9:11 pm

    21 years, almost 6 months of winter times 21 years, 21 years of wet, cold spring, and then humid summers. 21 years now my body has told me at a minimum of 16 hours in advance of weather changes. At 54 I too consider myself a seasoned weather person based only upon the pain in every part of my being. They have their research and I have mine. So many of us suffering from this chronic illness know this without the medical research. However, I hope that the research continues and the medical professionals and researchers help us by finding a way to stop this pain.

  2. Glorrierose at 6:00 pm

    Yes, this is research. But it is FLAWED research.

    In their explanation/defense, the researchers say:

    “In general, the weather circumstances were not extreme. However, weather conditions change a lot in the Netherlands and also in this study weather conditions varied a lot for most patients during the four weeks of the study. Thus, our study results do not hold for very extreme weather conditions, but for common variations in the weather.
    What month was it? What weather occurred during that time? What were the barometric pressure differences? How were pain and other symptoms measured?”

    “Varied a lot” — oh yeah, that is such a scientific measurement.

    “Our study results do not hold for very extreme weather conditions but for common variations in the weather.”

    Duh. So essentially the results do not hold against the claims fibro sufferers make.

    How did they measure pain and other symptoms? How did those correlate (or not) with which weather changes? What indeed WERE the changes and how were those measured?

    “A lot,” “common variations” — I beg your pardon. We are not stupid. Please give us the facts, not broad generalizations.

  3. Niki at 12:13 pm

    I’ve been fighting Fibromyalgia for 3 years and I know for a fact that the weather does make my pain worse. The cold, rainy/snowy weather and the heat. If you don’t know what it’s like to live with fibro pain then don’t act like you know what’s it all about because you don’t.

  4. Patrick at 3:04 pm

    Look, this is research. They can’t just make up their results and publish them, as they would lose their jobs and careers. It’s just more information, which will get compared and contrasted with the thousands of other research studies on fibro. I’m just happy that so many studies are occurring and have occurred in the recent past. I guess I feel more believed and my disease more legitimate. I can now point to numerous studies that show fibro is absolutely real and the symptoms are shared by so many of us.

  5. Jenn at 1:51 pm

    Well, if fibro isn’t the cause for my body reacting to weather changes with increased pain and headaches, then someone needs to figure out what it is that I have that DOES cause that, so maybe I can get a better treatment paln

  6. Kathy Mundy at 6:04 am

    This study is very flawed. I have had fibromyalgia for over 25 years and when I retire, I am going to be a weather woman on TV. I can predict bad weather for up to 48 hours ahead of time. I have had my doubters until they hear my predictions and see what weather follows–then they believe me. Other than stress, the weather is the primary factor of my fibromyalgia issues. Unfortunately, we can not do anything about Mother nature.