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Weather Doesn't Cause Back Pain, Study Says

07/14/2014 11:14 EDT | Updated 07/14/2014 11:59 EDT
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It's not the rain, nor the temperature, humidity, barometric pressure or wind direction, says a new study that refutes an association between lower back pain and inclement weather.

"Many patients believe that weather impacts their pain symptoms," says Dr. Daniel Steffens with the George Institute for Global Health at the University of Sydney, Australia. "However, there are few robust studies investigating weather and pain, specifically research that does not rely on patient recall of the weather."

Past studies have pointed to a link between cold or humid weather and increasing symptoms for patients with chronic pain conditions, who report equally that the weather affects their musculoskeletal pain.

The Australian case-crossover study in question, however, examined 993 patients in Sydney and sourced data from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology throughout the year-long study.

Researchers logged weather conditions at the time when patients initially felt their back pain and compared them with conditions one week and one month beforehand.

Although high winds and gusts showed a negligible increase in lower back pain, overall results suggest no association exists between the latter and temperature, humidity, air pressure, wind direction or even precipitation.

"Our findings refute previously held beliefs that certain common weather conditions increase risk of lower back pain," says Dr. Steffens. "Further investigation of the influence of weather parameters on symptoms associated with specific diseases such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis are needed."

According to the World Health Association (WHO), lower back pain affects 33 percent of the population at any given time and nearly everyone is likely to experience it at some point.

The study was published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.

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