Weather and Pain

by Toronto Health | Posted: July 1, 2020

Many doctors and people who suffer from chronic musculoskeletal pain believe that weather conditions have meaningful effects on their pain. In fact, between 62% and 97% of people believe that the weather can influence their pain in either a negative or positive way. It is generally believed that cold weather is worse for arthritic pain. Some of the most common conditions we see associated with this include:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Inflammatory pain
  • Musculoskeletal pain
  • Chronic pain

The classic case we often see are those who dread the winter season and will often report an increase in their pain and a decrease in their activity levels. But do we know why this happens?

The answer is unclear. One study investigating the relationship between weather conditions concluded there was no scientific consensus on this association, finding mixed results and low-quality evidence. They found there was no single weather variable that was consistently associated with pain, and in many cases those associations were in the opposite direction.

Despite this, many authors speculate that cold weather can lead barometric changes having mechanical effects on tendons and joints, increased sensitivity, reduced levels of physical activity, low levels of mood, affected sleep and less exposure to sun affecting vitamin D production.

While the jury is out on weather and pain, it’s important to respond to how your feeling during the seasonal change. If your experiencing an increase in your pain around the colder months its important to see your Physiotherapist who can provide a means to help you manage your symptoms in the colder months.

References:

  1. APA Beukenhorst, Anna L.a,*; Schultz, David M.b,c; McBeth, Johna,d; Sergeant, Jamie C.a,e; Dixon, William G.a,d Are weather conditions associated with chronic musculoskeletal pain? Review of results and methodologies, PAIN: April 2020 – Volume 161 – Issue 4 – p 668-683
    doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001776

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