It may not just be in your head — chronic pain could feel worse on windy, humid days, research suggests.
Published in October, researchers at the University of Manchester in the U.K., along with funding from Versus Arthritis, found people with long-term health conditions were 20 per cent more likely to feel pain on humid and windy days.
Researchers recruited more than 13,000 people in the U.K. in 2016 and had them use a smartphone app to record daily symptoms. At the end of the data collection, 2,658 people provided daily data for a six-month period. Participants had a variety of issues, but the majority had arthritis.
“Weather has been thought to affect symptoms in patients with arthritis since Hippocrates,” said Will Dixon, study author and professor of digital epidemiology, in a statement.
“Around three-quarters of people living with arthritis believe their pain is affected by the weather.”
“Given we can forecast the weather, it may be possible to develop a pain forecast knowing the relationship between weather and pain. This would allow people who suffer from chronic pain to plan their activities, completing harder tasks on days predicted to have lower levels of pain.”
Weather and pain
Some people with arthritis can feel joint pain on colder days, the Arthritis Foundation in the U.S. noted.
A small study in 2014 found 67 per cent of people with osteoarthritis reported being “weather sensitive,” meaning their joint pain would change depending on the weather, the foundation added.
Another study in 2011 found similar results: people with rheumatoid arthritis said their pain was influenced by the weather.
Terence Starz, a rheumatologist at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Pittsburgh, previously told the foundation while there is no direct link between the two, it could be a result of decreased activity.
“We know that physical activity relieves arthritis pain. And when the weather is unpleasant, people tend to hole up inside. That inactivity can lead to more pain.”
When you feel pain, treat it
Regardless of why you’re feeling pain, it’s always important to treat it as it happens.
David Wilson, professor of orthopedics and co-director of the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility at the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, previously told Global News any type of new joint pain should be brought up to a family doctor as soon as it happens.
“They are best equipped to assess the cause of pain, understand your specific health situation and where joint pain fits in, and recommend how to manage it,” he said.
“If the pain is from osteoarthritis, there are effective treatment options, including physical therapy, weight loss, medication and joint replacement.”
And with a variety of options for medication, again, speak with your doctor first.
“If you have osteoarthritis, you will likely have to manage it for years, and a doctor should be part of all decisions on long-term use of any medication,” he continued.
“Some prescription medications are designed to reduce the side-effects that become a concern with long-term use of pain medication.”
And in many cases, exercise and supplements can also be helpful.