Weather conditions can impact chronic pain
Weather conditions are closely linked to levels of chronic pain, initial findings from a smartphone research project suggest.
The Arthritis Research UK funded study by the University of Manchester is halfway through its 18-month duration.
No rain, no pain
So far, the study of over 9,000 people in Leeds, Norwich and London has found a direct link between the number of sunny days and rainfall levels, and changes in pain levels.
People suffering long-term pain were given access to a smartphone app that helps them to record their daily pain symptoms.
The app also captures hourly weather conditions using GPS. This means pain trends can be linked with local weather events in real time.
As the number of sunny days increased, the amount of time people spent experiencing severe pain dropped. Chronic pain levels rose again when the weather was wetter and there were fewer hours of sunshine.
More participants needed
While the early findings are encouraging, the researchers still need more participants to provide them with access to additional data.
Will Dixon, the scientific lead on the project, says once a link is proven, people will have confidence to plan their activities in accordance with the weather.
In addition, he hopes that by understanding how weather influences pain, medical researchers will be able to explore new pain interventions and treatments.
Dr Stephen Simpson, director of research and programmes at Arthritis Research UK, says there has been lots of anecdotal evidence of people with arthritis saying changes in weather affect their pain levels.
But to date there has been no scientific evidence to support this link.
Through the study the charity can also engage people with arthritis and its effects.