Study: Weather Conditions Do Not Affect Fibromyalgia

Study: Weather Conditions Do Not Affect Fibromyalgia

Many people who suffer from fibromyalgia say changes in the weather can affect their level of pain and fatigue. But according to a new study by Dutch researchers, weather conditions such as temperature, sunshine, and precipitation have no impact on fibromyalgia symptoms in female patients.

“Our analyses provide more evidence against, than in support of, the daily influence of weather on fibromyalgia pain and fatigue,” said lead author Ercolie Bossema, PhD, from Utrecht University in the Netherlands. “This study is the first to investigate the impact of weather on fibromyalgia symptoms in a large cohort, and our findings show no association between specific fibromyalgia patient characteristics and weather sensitivity.”

512px-Lightning_strike_jan_2007About 2% of the world’s population suffers from fibromyalgia, which is far more prevalent in women than in men. Symptoms include widespread pain, fatigue, headaches, and sleep and mood disturbances.  Fibromyalgia patients are often sensitive to a range of stimuli and up to 92% say weather conditions exacerbate their symptoms.

To study the impact of weather on pain and fatigue, the Dutch researchers studied 333 female fibromyalgia patients, who had an average age of 47 years.  The women kept a daily diary of their pain, fatigue, depression and sleeping patterns over a 28-day period.  The patient reports were then compared to data on temperature, sunshine duration, precipitation, atmospheric pressure, and relative humidity for those 28 days obtained from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute.

The researchers found only a few “significant influences” of temperature, sunshine, and humidity on some patients’ pain and fatigue. But the number of patients affected was so small and inconsistent that researchers discounted the results.

“However, these findings do not rule out the possibility that weather-symptom relations may exist for individual patients. Some patients may be more sensitive to weather or weather changes than other patients, and also some patients may be affected positively and other patients negatively by specific weather conditions,” the study concluded.

The authors speculated that physically active and less depressed patients may spend more time outdoors and are consequently more exposed to the weather.

A fibromyalgia expert told National Pain Report there could be other weather-related factors that the Dutch study didn’t consider.

“Though research says weather has no effect on fibromyalgia symptoms, patients frequently do not agree,” said Celeste Cooper, RN, a fibromyalgia sufferer and patient advocate.

“This could be because of the conditions that co-occur with fibromylagia. For instance, migraine headaches and arthritic conditions are aggravated by weather changes and they can overlap. So when one of the co-occurring conditions is out of control, it can have an effect on fibromyalgia symptoms.”

“The answer from me is that both the research and the patient are right. It is always about identifying any comorbid factors,” said Cooper.

The Dutch study is being published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, the official journal of the American College of Rheumatology and the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals.

Authored by: Pat Anson, Editor

There are 34 comments for this article
  1. Pat Anson, Editor at 9:02 pm

    Audrey, it is not our role to decide what is “right” and what is “wrong”. We published this story because it was a peer reviewed study published in a reputable medical journal. You may not like it or agree with it, but it is out there for the entire world to see, and not just in the United States. The study reflects the opinions of the researchers and, perhaps, others in the medical community. That said, this story provoked a negative response among many our readers, which we anticipated, and generated two followup stories — including a response from the researcher herself (which was very much appreciated).

    http://nationalpainreport.com/readers-sound-off-on-fibromyalgia-study-8820327.html

    http://nationalpainreport.com/fibromyalgia-researcher-responds-to-our-readers-8820314.html

    We’re not in the business of sweeping things under a rug if we don’t agree with them.

  2. Audrey Calame at 7:35 pm

    What would ever possess your publication to ever post something so unbelievably wrong? Why would you get your information from a country that is not even in our same continent and weather climate? Your credibility of real “pain” is a joke!!!

  3. Sierra at 6:06 pm

    “Many people who suffer from fibromyalgia say changes in the weather can affect their level of pain and fatigue. But according to a new study by Dutch researchers, weather conditions such as temperature, sunshine, and precipitation have no impact on fibromyalgia symptoms in female patients.”

    and thats all i read because this is complete bullshit.

  4. brenda coe at 11:55 am

    My daughter has suffered with this pain since age 16 she is now 40 and believe me she is in pain constantly with ohio weather, she hardly ever gets a break, she is in pain management and has not had much relief, undergone carpal tunnel and another surgery for arthritis build up on the thumb joint, it has not helped either and has spread pain up her arm to shoulder. She is like a barometer and can predict change in weather before its even a fact. It saddens me to see her in this much pain, she does not know what a pain free day is. I worked in the medical profession for 30 years and the doctors just don’t get it, the pain the patients suffer is real and they need to listen and not think they are all crazy… This research team really missed the boat. my daughter is unable to work at this time and is off on leave, she uses a computer at work but unable to do her job due to extreme hand pain. do this test in Ohio so I can send her to you.

  5. Annie H at 1:56 pm

    When I first heard of this “study” on the news, I made a very rude gesture to the television. I live in Washington State where it rains a lot. I can give you a better weather report than the news. Right before it starts raining, I can feel the pressure building and the pain gets going. When it stays hot and dry, I am so much better. When we go on vacation to Cabo San Lucas, I am a new person. With all of the problems with receiving adequate pain management, I am seriously considering moving to a dryer climate. This study needs to be re-done.

  6. MiMi at 5:49 am

    Perhaps they just DID NOT GO TO THE RIGHT PLACE….or interview the right people…perhaps they need to do a WORLDWIDE STUDY on this with lots of locations and lots of people who have the mean and ugly illness. I live in NC and I know for sure that the weather makes a BIG DIFFERENCE.

  7. Carole Davis at 2:49 pm

    I hope the authors of this study are seeing these comments. Every single one is saying the same thing … and I totally agree with each one of them.

  8. Carissa at 12:02 pm

    Tell ya what, come out to Vegas….hmm…about now and do that study again. Right now we’re fluctuating from high heat and low humidity to monsoon conditions, with heavy rain and thunderstorms (WITH the heat to boot!). As if it wasn’t bad enough having a newly discovered bulged disc in my back, I’ve got to deal with the fibro flares from the rapid fluctuation of the weather this month.

    This “study” is a load of horse crap. Everyone knows the scientific process from grade school and this completely ignored it. IT didn’t consider all the variables. How severe were the subjects’ fibro? How sensitive were they to pain? What WAS the weather like there? They obviously didn’t do the study long enough either because they couldn’t possibly have accounted for the variety of weather conditions that happen over the course of a year.

    I’m completely outraged that they would even bother to publish such an incomplete study. It’s totally embarrassing to the scientific community.

  9. Karen Bartels at 7:01 pm

    This is the worst study i have ever seen ….. what was the weather like for the 28 days … warm low humidity and sunny … give me a break … it has so much to do with the pain level and if you are that much pain then you can assume ( and be correct ) that your body and mind will fatigue … what a bunch of horse hockey …. I am thinking of conducting my own non scientific study on the same subject matter … but I will do it for a year and we can conduct it on facebook … I bet we will get better info than this study ever would … what a bunch of crap

  10. Cynthia Culverhouse at 6:20 am

    All of the above comments are so true… I suggest that you do another study because the results that you got don’t coincide with any of what I read above or on the facebook social network where sufferers posts how they feel. This study is WRONG in every sense of the word. Are there any doctors that suffer from Fibromyalgia? Their opinion would count instead of the ridiculous study that was done. Also, I don’t drink alcohol so there is no co-relation there either.

  11. Shari Creech at 4:14 am

    I think it is kind of funny that they don’t mention what the weather was like during that 28 day study. I mean the point is kind of mute if during that 28 days, the weather was mostly sunny and no rain. I have no idea what the weather is like there. I don’t think this is a very reliable study though -too many loose and uncontrolled variables.

  12. Eva O at 10:24 am

    The study did not include ( as far as I could tell) barometric pressure fluctuations.
    This has been correlated with oth studies and should continue to be investigated.

  13. Jay C. at 7:49 pm

    This is so wrong in SO many ways…once again feeling as though someone is dictating the pain Fibromyalgia sufferers feel. I understand, that yes Arthritis is a factor, but really I can TRULY tell you that when the weather changes my pain is UP. I live in Florida, you would think the warmer weather would be good, but with all the rain and changes in the barometric pressure I truly feel every move of that gauge. Its AWFUL. More research needs to be done with a wider variety of sufferers and different levels/years of dealing with Fibromyalgia. Never under estimate the pain someone is living with unless you can somehow put yourself in their body for a day to see what they live with. Just another person throwing the thought around that they know what is right and wrong. Do more research people cause your tabulation is NULL and VOID. Not to be rude, but I wish that someone who predicts our pain could actually FEEL it, then everyone would know what strong people we truly are. We are survivors and daily warriors it is not an easy life but we do it and sometimes with a smile on the outside while tears shower our souls. This is awful.

  14. Jeanne Hyatt at 5:49 pm

    Epic fail here. Sorry, but I am not buying it. I know what I feel and when I feel it and my body is affected by weather changes. And judging from the comments here, so do a lot of others with this horrible illness.

  15. Cathryn Fogg-Suggs at 12:48 am

    I am so angry and upset tears sprang out of my eyes. I also am known by family and friends as a more reliable barometer than the paid meteorologist! I am able to tell that the precipitation is not only on the way, but approximately how long before it will start, how severe the storm will be, and even in an inside office with no windows, I know when the precip starts!!. I have no doubt that part of the problem in isolating the effects of pending weather change, and onset of precip may be entwined in other syndromes/illnesses that are commonly co-morbid with fibromyalgia; I suffer from migraine and cluster headaches. moderate cervical and sacral oste= arthritis, degenerative disc disease, Shogrens syndrome CFS, allergies and several minor issues. What I know is that whichever of my problems is the one responsible for detecting pending weather/barometric changes, it directly and greatly affects the symptoms of fibromyalgia. I did read in the study report how the researchers isolated fibro symptoms, or found a control group of people who had fibromyalgia singularly. I’m just sorry that their published results will include some of the pertinent comments written about their work, and will likely be taken as another reason to de-legitimize what fibromyalgia patients deal with. What a dis- service!

  16. Penny Simpson at 4:56 am

    I don’t know about the Dutch but i’m an American from Texas, and I can tell you I have pain EVERYtime 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!! I’ll probably be in pain soon just because of this!! It is ridiculous and a straight up lie!! Hope they publish all the comments along with the ‘report’ that is bogus. I am a human barometer, I can tell you a storm is coming before the meteorologist know it!!

  17. Lisa at 4:45 am

    OMG !!!!….BULLSHIT !!!!!

    Exactly like Denise said, come live in my body, too !!!!
    Cold, Damp, Hot, Humid….MY BODY SCREAMS IN PAIN !!!

  18. Anne Adams at 1:10 am

    Sorry, but i just don’t believe this. I can normally tell what the weather is before i even got out of bed.

    The headline is very misleading.

  19. Stephanie Dawson at 9:20 pm

    I hope that the results were discounted because it is such flawed science. Shame on you for even printing this bogus report! People with this disease have enough problems without being plagued by faulty and ridiculous “science.”

  20. Melinda Gough at 9:17 pm

    I don’t know who was included in this study but barometric pressure and extreme cold most definitely causes flares for me and I’m sure others. They can study all they want but I live it and I disagree with their “scientific findings”

  21. Stephen S. Rodrigues, MD at 1:39 pm

    Every time a read a study, I wonder who financed the venture. It’s so obvious the human body is effected by the weather, the moon etc because we are bags of fluid. Our joints are surrounded by bags of fluid. Trigger points are pockets of “ouch” embedded in the flesh and are affected my movement and thus pressure changes. In the 90’s before, I was in the know, a Fibromyalgia patient knew she would need more pain meds because of solar activity. I thought maybe an aluminum foil hat? Now I know she was just being proactive and gearing up for weather changes.

  22. Kay Boyajan at 11:42 pm

    What a crock of BS, I’m so affected by changes in weather.
    My pain level is unreal when a storm is coming.

  23. Debby at 3:35 pm

    28 days was not long enough to do a study. 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 my hands are killing me, my head is pounding. Weather related for sure, I can feel it as it gets closer, I do not have to watch the news.

  24. Lila Vaccher at 12:28 pm

    This study is flawed in in it’s entirety. The women that they study were from the Netherlands, which has a moderate maritime climate. There are no major temperature or barometric swings in maritime climates that would affect people with Fibromyalgia or Rheumatic Diseases.

  25. Jo-Ann Stamp at 9:59 am

    This is rubish! I totally agree with all of the above. Theres nothing more to say.

  26. Denise at 5:35 am

    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. Nauseous, dizzy, black out and almost faint. So, really? It doesn’t affect us? Live in my body for a while then tell me that.

  27. Emm Spring at 1:36 am

    Seriously? Who did they study?! I’ve had this since I was very young and I know many others with it as well. While some of us are affected by different types of weather, I don’t know one person with fibro that says weather doesn’t affect them. For me, rain (and tornadoes) affect me more, but I know others who say snow and cold is worse. Even hot, muggy weather affects me but in a different way than the rain.
    I’m so freaking sick and tired of doctors and scientists. They are mostly all bought off by the drug companies now. I think they just pull these “studies” out of thin air and report whatever they want to.

  28. john marco at 11:50 pm

    I’m almost at a loss for words. . I know where I live in the summer we can get up into the 90;s f or around 32c and in the winter can get down to more than -40 f & c and i do feel it more in the cold when the pressure changes but I feel it in the summer as well.
    I dont think any study should be published with less than 5000 ppl in the tested group that way there “number of patients affected was so small and inconsistent that researchers discounted the results”. I;m sure would not be so small that the researchers could not discount the results.

    I also have Ostioarthritis but I can tell the difference between the joint pain of the Arthritis and the Fibro pain .

    And think of all the tree’s that will have to be cut down to publish this rubbish. . Not impressed at all !!!! Quack Science at its worst !!!

  29. Pamela Steadman at 5:16 pm

    They are walking in the wrong shoes then….I have yet to meet one that says weather does not affect us…..

  30. Jenn at 1:48 pm

    This is just sad. Everyone who studies FMS says we all react differently, that weather treats us all differently. So because the findings were “inconsistent” they just DISMISSED the results?!?! How’s that for scientific freaking process for ya?!

  31. Shana N. at 10:16 am

    This is ridiculous! I have been challenged with fibro for 19 years. Anyone that knows me knows I can feel atmospheric pressure 12 hrs before bad weather hits….cold fronts, storms etc are not what increases the symptoms but the pressure change is what causes the increased sensitivity. Slow moving changes can be horrible whereas something fast moving causes less changes in symptoms. And I do agree that other medical conditions sometimes associated and/or combined with fibro can be a factor. I have also had diagnoses of psoriatic arthritis & hypothyroidism so it is difficult to know what is what. I also know dreary, cold weather causes emotional changes which can effect how symptoms of pain, fatigue are processed and tolerated.

  32. Emily Greer at 11:54 am

    I guess my rheumatologist is a liar and so am I. My body is so in tune to the weather. It may have before the diagnosis too, but I wasn’t so aware.

  33. Dennis Kinch at 11:00 am

    I guess the thousands of patients I’ve talked to personally, and myself, are all wrong. As a matter of fact, I’ve never met anyone who didn’t suffer from weather changes. I think they should study low and high pressure systems.and research without an agenda of non-belief. More “scientists’ who prove, validation isn’t in the numbers.