Changes in the weather are not connected with back pain or osteoarthritis symptoms, Australian researchers have concluded

A study comparing weather patterns with pain symptoms has shown no association between the two, say researchers from The George Institute for Global Health.

Almost 1000 people with lower back pain and about 350 with knee osteoarthritis were recruited for the Australian-based studies conducted by the institute.

Weather data from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology were also sourced for the duration of the study period, with average daily temperatures ranging from 5.4°C to 32.8°C.

Researchers compared the weather at the time patients first noticed pain with weather conditions up to one month before the onset of pain as a control measure.

There was no association found between back pain and temperature, humidity, air pressure, wind direction or precipitation, according to results published in the journal Pain Medicine.

Higher temperatures did slightly increase the chances of lower back pain, but the amount of the increase was not clinically important.

A second article published in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage revealed changes in weather factors did not appear to exacerbate pain in people with knee osteoarthritis.

“The belief that pain and inclement weather are linked dates back to Roman times,” says Professor Chris Maher from The George Institute, who led the back pain study.

“But our research suggests this belief may be based on the fact that people recall events that confirm their pre-existing 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.”

Associate Professor Manuela Ferreira, who led the osteoarthritis research, says the results show people who suffer from either back pain or knee osteoarthritis should not focus on the weather.

“What’s more important is to focus on things you can control in regards to managing pain and prevention,” she says.