Forget the weather: your aches and pains don’t care

2 minute read

Despite howls of protest, researchers prove the weather doesn’t have anything to do with our aches and pains


A belief persisting since Roman times has finally been overturned by Australian researchers, who have proved that the weather really doesn’t have anything to do with your aches and pains.

Despite long-held contentions that heat, cold, humidity, rain, wind direction or air pressure may be to blame for a flare-up, the data just does not support the notion.

“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,” Professor Chris Maher, director of the George Institute of Global Health’s musculoskeletal division, said.

Basically, humans have been noticing or looking for instances that fit their pre-conceived ideas, or partaking in what is known as “confirmation bias”.

The researchers conducted a more extensive analysis, cross-referencing data from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology with self-reported symptoms from two cohorts of almost 1000 people with lower back pain and around 350 with knee osteoarthritis, after earlier, similar findings prompted a backlash on social media.

“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.”

As a control measure, the researchers compared the weather at the time of first pain with conditions one week and one month prior.

Pain Medicine 2016; online 15 December

Osteoarthr Cartil 2016; online 1 August

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