Stop Blaming The Weather For Your Back Pain

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Got back pain? Does it seem worse in hot/cold weather? On super dry/humid days? During rain? When the wind is blowing East?

Well, there's yet another study that says the weather has absolutely nothing to do with your pain.

Professor Chris Maher, who completed the study at The George Institute for Global Health, says the belief that pain and inclement weather are linked dates back to Roman times.

"But our research suggests this belief may be based on the fact that people recall events that confirm their pre-existing views," Dr Maher explains. "Human beings are very susceptible so it's easy to see why we might only take note of pain on the days when it's cold and rainy outside, but discount the days when they have symptoms but the weather is mild and sunny."

Almost 1000 people with lower back pain, and around 350 with knee osteoarthritis were recruited for the Australian-based studies. Weather data from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology were sourced for the duration of the study period. Researchers compared the weather at the time patients first noticed pain with weather conditions one week and one month before the onset of pain as a control measure.

Results showed no association between back pain and temperature, humidity, air pressure, wind direction or precipitation. However, higher temperatures did slightly increase the chances of lower back pain, but the amount of the increase was describes as "not clinically important".

This is on the back of a previous study from the team twhich confirmed the same thing, not that people wanted to hear it.

"People were adamant that adverse weather conditions worsened their symptoms so we decided to go ahead with a new study based on data from new patients with both lower back pain and osteoarthritis," Professor Maher said. "The results though were almost exactly the same – there is absolutely no link between pain and the weather in these conditions."

Back pain affects up to a third of the world's population at any one time, whilst almost 10 per cent of men and 18 percent of women over the age of 60 have osteoarthritis.

Associate Professor Manuela Ferreira, who led the osteoarthritis research at The George Institute, said people who suffer from either of these conditions should not focus on the weather as it does not have an important influence on your symptoms, and it is outside your control.

"What's more important is to focus on things you can control in regards to managing pain and prevention," A/Prof Ferreira who is a Senior Research Fellow at The George Institute and at the Institute of Bone and Joint Research, added.

The studies were carried out across Australia with average daily temperatures ranging from 5.4 degrees Celsius to 32.8 degrees Celsius.

[Pain Medicine]

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