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Weather ‘does not’ affect fibromyalgia pain or fatigue


Weather conditions including temperature, sunshine, and precipitation have no overall impact on fibromyalgia symptoms in female patients, according to Dutch researchers.

However, the results suggest that individual patients may be sensitive to some changes in the weather, according to the study authors.

Fibromyalgia affects 2% of the world population with a greater prevalence among women. While its cause remains a mystery, previous studies have suggested patients have increased sensitivity to a range of stimuli including weather conditions.

Lead author Ercolie Bossema, from Utrecht University, said: “Previous research has investigated weather conditions and changes in fibromyalgia symptoms, but an association remains unclear.”

The new study involved 333 female patients with a mean age of 47 years who had a diagnosis of fibromyalgia for nearly two years.

Patients completed questions regarding their pain and fatigue symptoms over a 28-day period. Meanwhile, researchers obtained data on air temperature, sunshine duration, precipitation, atmospheric pressure and relative humidity.

In 10% of cases weather variables showed a significant but small effect on pain or fatigue symptoms.

In 20%, researchers found significant small differences between patients’ responses to weather, suggesting symptoms were differentially affected by some weather conditions, for example greater pain with either low or high atmospheric pressure.

The differences in individual symptom response to weather conditions did not appear to be associated with any demographic, functional or mental health status, nor seasonal or weather-related variations.

“Our analyses provide more evidence against, than in support of, the daily influence of weather on fibromyalgia pain and fatigue,” said Dr Bossema.

“This study is the first to investigate the impact of weather on fibromyalgia symptoms in a large cohort, and our findings show no association between specific fibromyalgia patient characteristics and weather sensitivity.”

The authors suggest future research should include more patient characteristics, such as personality traits, beliefs about chronic pain, and attitude regarding the influence of weather on symptoms, to explain individual differences in weather sensitivity and its impact on fibromyalgia pain and fatigue.


Readers' comments (5)

  • tinkerbell

    So not the weather then, what about fluctuating hormone levels as is more common in women of a certain age.

    I ask because after coming of the pill which i had been on for many, many years, three months later I woke with stiff hands, this steadily progressed to stiff toes, ankles, knees, hips, spine, shoulders, neck, elbows and wrists. Have I missed any other joints out?

    My GP tells me there is no link. Yet the arthritis reasearch UK says there is.

    I am now conducting my own personal research whilst awaiting a referral to rheumatology which my GP was reluctant to make until i pleaded with him.

    My consultant where i work said this is the least he should do.

    He has also refused to put me on any HRT as he says it could cause breast cancer.

    I was hopeful that this problem would just burn itself out, but so far it persists.

    Basically my GP is saying there is nothing he can do for me, which may be the case but it will not stop me from exploring it further.

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  • tinkerbell | 6-Jun-2013 8:30 am

    tinkerbell, you really should not have to 'plead' with your GP and as a healthcare professional, even less so. you have every right to have the opinion of a specialist.


    Re the weather this seems to have been a thorough but small study but I would suggest as so little is known about this disorder maybe it, and the weather affect individuals differently and is subjective. It seems plausible that hormone fluctuations could also play a role.

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  • Tinkerbell

    from commentator above

    this article which appeared in DT this morning might have useful information on new studies on HRT

    "Using HRT is safe, experts claim
    Using hormone replacement therapy to combat the menopause is safe, medical experts have claimed."

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  • tinkerbell

    from the last two above and on a lighter note( from a Children's book of poems) but seems to fit in rather well with this theme

    'whether the weather be fine, or whether the weather be not, we'll weather the weather whatever the
    whether, weather we like it or not!'

    or at least we will have to until a cure is found. Be persistent in your exploration.

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  • tinkerbell

    thank you all for your input. The weather made no discernible difference as i spent nearly a month in the warmth abroad. I am soon to start using macaroot from Peru and hope it will easen all the post menopausal symptoms.

    Most iof us women at work of a similar age are experiencing similar.

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