We all know at least one person who can predict when the weather pattern is changing even though they have never studied Meteorology. Here is a short section from my column titled ” Can Cats Really Predict The Weather” published March 10, 2014. I gave a little sample of what this week’s topic is all about.
“Some humans can predict the weather by how their body reacts to changes in the atmosphere. Some people get migraine headaches when the weather changes in certain ways. There is a field of science that studies this relationship and it is called biometeorology. Many people with arthritis in their joints, bursitis, or rheumatism seem to be able to sense the change that is coming. I researched this phenomenon quite a few years ago and what I found out was that the change in barometric pressure can cause aches or pains in some people just before a storm approaches. The research suggested that for many it could be a combination of things that causes the sensitivity. Barometric pressure along with a change in temperature could cause a physical response in a person. It could be the pressure change along with an increase or decrease in relative humidity that triggers the sensitivity. I’m sure there are researchers out there who are studying this with the goal of seeing exactly what is going on.”
I am not a fortune teller, but that last sentence is the reason I chose this topic for exploration this week. A September 15, 2016 article in Spine-Healh written by Carrie DeVries was titled “How Cooler Weather Affects Chronic Pain.” The article reflects the thoughts I expressed over two years ago. ” There’s not a lot of scientific evidence showing a correlation between weather changes and chronic pain. Various studies have shown no or very slight associations between pain and weather factors like temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, and wind speed. The strongest evidence points to weather’s effects on those with joint pain conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.”
DeVries says that there is, however, a lot of anecdotal evidence of the connection between weather and pain. There have been studies done surveying pain sufferers and their stories of how the weather impacts their pain but from what I have found not much proof of that connection.
According to cloudywithachanceofpain.com over 9,000 people are participating in a current study concerning the relationship between weather and pain. The study is open to only those who live in the United Kingdom and are suffering from arthritis or chronic pain.They also have to have a special app. for their smartphone. The app. will, on its own, capture the hourly weather conditions using the phone’s GPS. The participants record their daily pain symptoms on the app. and it compares that data with the weather data to find correlations.
The research team reviewed the data collected so far at the half way point in the study. Professor Will Dixon, Professor of Digital Epidemiology at the University of Manchester’s School of Biological Sciences is in charge of the program. The current review centered on three cities participating including Leeds, Norwich and London. Here are some of their findings. ” Across all three cities, as the number of sunny days increased from February to April, the amount of time spent in severe pain decreased. However, the time spent in severe pain increased again in June when the weather was wetter and and there were fewer hours of sunshine.”
Professor Dixon states that the early results are encouraging, but but he is urging more people in the UK to participate in the study so the results can be more definitive. Dixon says “To work out the details of how weather influences pain we we need as many people as possible to participate in the study and track their symptoms on their smartphone.” He goes on to say “Once the link is proven, people will have the confidence to plan their activities in accordance with the weather. In addition, understanding how weather influences pain will allow medical researchers to explore new pain interventions and treatments.”
I’ll be anxious to see the results of their study. As I have mentioned previously getting up-to-date research information in biometeorology is quite difficult since very little is available to the public.
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