Does Weather Cause Low Back Pain?

According to a new study from Australia, it’s not the rain, nor the temperature, humidity, barometric pressure or wind direction that causes low back pain.

“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.

The Australian case-crossover study in question, however, examined 993 patients in Sydney, from October 2011 to November 2012, 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 during 2 control time windows (same time duration, 1 week and 1 month before the case window).

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.”

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