Chronic pain comes in many forms. Over half of those suffering from chronic pain, say they experience life-altering levels of pain on a daily basis. Many sufferers tend to blame themselves for their inability to complete daily tasks.
While patients may assume that pain is due to a failure in self-management, this is not always the case. A new study, published in Nature, explores how environmental factors may contribute to the level of pain a person experiences on any given day.
Chronic pain is a widespread health concern. This type of pain is defined as persistent pain that lasts at least 12 weeks. Pain can be steady, intermittent, sharp, or dull. Additionally, chronic pain can occur anywhere in the body.
Of those with chronic pain, the majority believe that the weather influences daily pain levels.
To find scientific support for this assumption, which dates back to the time of Hippocrates, researchers conducted a study.
The study, from the University of Manchester, included more than 13,000 people from all across the UK. The final data set included only 2,658 people, whose participation was consistent.
For the study, participants were asked to use a phone app to track their daily pain levels. GPS data collected from the users' cell phones gave insight into the weather at each participant's location when pain was being rated.
Analysis of the data collected revealed a 20% increase in the chance that a person will experience pain on damp, windy days with low atmospheric pressure. Pain appeared to be worse if days were also cold.
Interestingly, the study found no correlation between rainfall and pain, which is often assumed.
The findings of the study are promising for chronic pain sufferers. It is suggested that such information could help patients plan their daily activities. Activities requiring pain levels to be in check can be scheduled for days where pain is less likely to occur. Additionally, it is possible that "pain scale "information could be offered alongside other weather data such as UV or precipitation information.
The video above, from Christiana Care, goes into detail about some of the treatment options available for chronic pain patients.