Back Pain: Dispelling the Weather Myth

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Foggy or humid weather isn't to blame for back pain, new research suggests.
Foggy or humid weather isn’t to blame for back pain, new research suggests.

How many times have you blamed your back pain on the humidity? Or does rain in the forecast make you grimace because you know that you’re going to spend the day in agony? Well, research published in Arthritis Care & Research suggests that weather has absolutely nothing do to with your aches and pains – contrary to this extremely popular belief.

In a case-crossover study, researchers in Australia interviewed 993 individuals who experienced a sudden bout of back pain and compared them to meteorological reports for the timeframe of onset of pain, as well as one week and one month prior. This study occurred over the course of one year (between October 2011 and November 2012) allowing them to view data such as humidity, air pressure, temperature, wind direction, and precipitation, from every season.

They found that regardless of what the weather was doing outside, it had no considerable impact on what was happening inside the study participant’s bodies when it came to back pain. They did notice a small effect of wind speed on back pain, increasing it slightly when winds picked up, but noted that the effect was so minimal that it “was not clinically important.”

The study urged that more research should be conducted regarding weather conditions and other pain related issues such as arthritis and fibromyalgia as their findings may not be solely related to back pain, but other chronic pain issues as well. Earlier research has also raised questions about the effect of weather on fibromyalgia symptoms. Scientists also won’t rule out the fact that weather may play a role in more extreme weather climates, but for areas with fairly moderate seasons, they feel that it has no impact.

So, what does this mean? Perhaps there are other factors that make it appear that weather is the cause of more achiness and hurt. For instance, maybe you are more active when rain is in the forecast because you know that your activities are going to be limited in the days ahead. Or, it is even possible that the pain is triggered simply because you expect it.

No matter what the cause, regular chiropractic care can minimize your back pain and help you live a more active life. That way you can enjoy yourself – rain or shine.

 

Reference

Steffens D, et al. Weather does not affect back pain: Results from a case-crossover study. Arthritis Care & Research. DOI: 10.1002/acr.22378.

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