Published on:January 10, 2017

 Article Source: George Institute for Global Health

 Abstract: The weather do not play any role in causing the symptoms associated with either back pain or osteoarthritis, new research says. It was earlier believed that episodes of both back pain and arthritis can be triggered by changes in the weather, including temperature, humidity, air pressure, wind direction and precipitation which has been proven wrong according to the recent research.

Complete Article:

According to a new research from The George Institute for Global Health, the weather plays no role in the symptoms linked with either back pain or osteoarthritis.

It’s long been believed that changes in in the weather, including temperature, humidity, air pressure, wind direction and precipitation can trigger episodes of both back pain and arthritis which is not true, the research reveals.

“The belief that pain and inclement weather are linked dates back to Roman times. But our research suggests this belief may be based on the fact that people recall events that confirm their pre-existing views,” says Professor Chris Maher, the George Institute for Global Health.


“Human beings are very susceptible so it’s easy to see why we might only take note of pain on the days when it’s cold and rainy outside, but discount the days when they have symptoms but the weather is mild and sunny,” he added.

The Australian-based study involved the recruitment of almost 1000 people with lower back pain, and around 350 with knee osteoarthritis. Weather data from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology were sourced for the duration of the study period. In the study, the researchers compared the weather at the time patients first noticed pain with weather conditions one week and one month before the onset of pain as a control measure.

The results revealed there is no link between back pain and temperature, humidity, air pressure, wind direction or precipitation. However, higher temperatures did slightly increase the chances of lower back pain, but the amount of the increase was not clinically important.

The results supported the earlier research on back pain and inclement weather from The George Institute which faced widespread criticism from the public on social media.

“People were adamant that adverse weather conditions worsened their symptoms so we decided to go ahead with a new study based on data from new patients with both lower back pain and osteoarthritis. The results though were almost exactly the same — there is absolutely no link between pain and the weather in these conditions,” said Professor Maher, who led this study

Back pain affects nearly one third of the world’s population at any one time, while 10 per cent of men and 18 percent of women over the age of 60 have osteoarthritis.

Associate Professor Manuela Ferreira, the leader of osteoarthritis research at The George Institute, said: “People who suffer from either of these conditions should not focus on the weather as it does not have an important influence on your symptoms and it is outside your control.”

“What’s more important is to focus on things you can control in regards to managing pain and prevention,” added Ferreira Associate Professor & Senior Research Fellow, The George Institute and at the Institute of Bone and Joint Research.

The study was done across the continent Australia with average daily temperatures ranging from 5.4C to 32.8C.

Journal Reference:

Keira Beilken, Mark J. Hancock, Chris G. Maher, Qiang Li, Daniel Steffens. Acute Low Back Pain? Do Not Blame the Weather—A Case-Crossover StudyPain Medicine, 2016; pnw126 DOI: 10.1093/pm/pnw126