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In earlier articles we have considered the effect on CRPS and other chronic pain conditions of both hot weather and cold weather. While it seems that most people living with chronic pain experience a noticeable change in their symptoms with the weather – particularly in extremes of weather – a link has remained unproven scientifically.
Now, a meta-analysis published in the journal, PAIN, has considered the question – “Are weather conditions associated with chronic musculoskeletal pain?” A meta-analysis is not in itself primary research, but rather a statistical analysis of other studies which have been published on a broadly similar topic. The idea is that by combining data from multiple papers, it is possible to gain a more reliable conclusion.
By searching 5 huge databases of previous research, the study’s authors identified 4,707 papers which were broadly on topic. After sifting through those, 43 were similar enough to satisfy their inclusion criteria.
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What did they find?
On the basis of the extensive anecdotal evidence, it will come as little surprise to learn that 67% of the studies “found some association between pain and a weather variable.” The most common variables investigated were atmospheric pressure, relative humidity and precipitation.
However, they found no single weather variable that was consistently associated with pain. Further, in a number of the studies, the results were directly conflicting. For example, one study found a direct association between temperature and pain, while another found no association at all!
So what can we take from this?
What the analysis has provided is information which will be invaluable in developing the criteria for future studies. The authors say:
“In conclusion, existing studies of the association between weather and pain do not yet provide conclusive evidence to confirm or deny such relationship. The recommendations for future research provided in this review will hopefully make future studies more effective in characterizing the association between weather and pain.”