The weather’s not to blame for your aches and pains – Study

Do you remember the old ads for Chiffon Margarine a while back that showed Mother Nature trying some and thinking it was real butter. When told it wasn’t she uttered the famous line, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.” You can see it on You Tube below

Turns out it’s not nice to blame Mother Nature either.

New research from The George Institute for Global Health has revealed the weather plays no part in the symptoms associated with either back pain or osteoarthritis.

It’s long been thought episodes of both back pain and arthritis can be triggered by changes in the weather, including temperature, humidity, air pressure, wind direction and precipitation.

Professor Chris Maher, of The George Institute for Global Health, said: “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 preexisting views.

“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 not clinically important.

The findings reinforce earlier research on back pain and inclement weather from The George Institute which received widespread criticism from the public on social media.

Professor Maher, who led the back pain study, added: “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. 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, while almost 10 percent 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.”

Prof Ferreira, Senior Research Fellow at The George Institute and at the Institute of Bone and Joint Research, added: “What’s more important is to focus on things you can control in regards to managing pain and prevention.”


Filed under osteoarthritis pain, pain, Pain relief, weather

13 responses to “The weather’s not to blame for your aches and pains – Study

  1. I would love to see a study done on cycling and back pain… I used to struggle MIGHTILY with back pain. Running helped considerably but since I began riding a bike, and I ride LOW, my pain has gone from severe, several days a week, to minor, once or twice a month.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pain is such an interesting subject because it is in our brains. I remember thinking it was like magic when I was little and my dad told me that Tylenol just covered up the pain in your mind so that you didn’t know you were in pain. Also, very interesting study on pain & weather, because we always hear the opposite!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Angel Montez

    What about rheumatoid arthritis pains on a person acting up two to three days before the cokd weather arrives (where the person w R.A. lives.) When the warm weather sets in the pains are gone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing. As an osteoarthritis sufferer, I am ignorant about RA. Regarding weather, however, I can tell you when it it going to rain by the pain in my arthritic thumbs.


  4. Samantha

    There goes my ongoing excuse for everything: I always blame the weather for, well, just about anything. Great article, Tony 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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