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New Study Backs Chronic Pain Sufferers Who Say Weather Worsens Their Pain

The study of thousands of UK residents found humid, windy, low pressure days more associated with high pain days.

Many people with arthritis and other long-term chronic pain conditions believe the cold, the heat or maybe damp or rainy weather makes their pain worse. A new U.K. study supports that belief.

Dr. Adeel Haq, a pain management physician with Texas Health Plano, says several previous studies have agreed with patient observations about weather and pain.

“However, those studies were always much smaller,” Haq said, “20 to a few hundred patients here and there. Patients would be followed for a month or two maximum.”

In a recent study, researchers tracked more than 13,000 U.K. residents over 15 months. They determined days with higher humidity, lower pressure and stronger winds are more likely to be associated with high pain days.

Haq says the research doesn’t explain why that happens, but he thinks more study will lead to a better understanding of how environment impacts pain, and may ultimately lead to new and more effective treatment for people who suffer from pain.

Equally important, the research “validates the beliefs of the three quarters of people living with long-term pain that weather does impact pain," Haq said."If you know that certain weather conditions might increase your pain, you can plan your activities around it and take greater control of your life.”


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Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.