No clear link between weather and fibromyalgia

Cloud to ground lightning strikes near storm chasers during a tornadic thunderstorm in Cushing Credit: Reuters
One new study says that weather and fibromyalgia are not obviously related.
Credit: Reuters

Despite common complaints that the weather can aggravate fibromyalgia symptoms, a new study finds little consistency in the type of weather conditions linked to worsening of the mysterious pain syndrome.

Furthermore, “the few significant associations that we found (between weather and fibromyalgia symptoms) were very small, too small to affect daily functioning,” said Ercolie Bossema, a researcher at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, in an email to Reuters Health.

Bossema added that weather-related symptoms may exist, but “perhaps these factors differ from person to person.”

Up to 92 percent of fibromyalgia patients report that certain weather conditions can exacerbate their symptoms – particularly, chronic pain and fatigue, Bossema and her colleagues point out in their study, published in Arthritis Care & Research.

Fibromyalgia is a poorly understood disorder that includes joint pain and tenderness, fatigue and depression and affects an estimated 5.8 million Americans, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There is no known cause of the disorder, and no surefire way to cure it.

Bossema said that studies examining the influence of the weather on symptoms have not shown an obvious pattern.

Her team asked more than 300 women with fibromyalgia to keep a daily record of their symptoms, sleep and activity for four weeks.

The women rated each measure, such as pain or quality of sleep, on a five-point scale, with five representing “very much” and one “not at all.”

The researchers then compared these diaries to each day’s weather conditions, including temperature, sunshine, precipitation, humidity and atmospheric pressure.

Overall, the women reported a pain score of 3.35 and a fatigue score of 3.77, which are considered moderate to high.

Higher pain scores were linked to days with less sunshine or higher humidity, but the effects were very small.

For instance, an extra hour of sunshine on a day was tied to a 0.005 decrease on the five-point pain scale.

And a one percent increase in relative humidity was linked with a 0.004 point increase in pain.

With regard to sun, the findings make sense, said Dr. Stuart Silverman, a physician who specializes in fibromyalgia in Beverly Hills, California.

“Everybody feels a lot better in the sun,” Silverman said.

“When it’s sunny out you go out, and you are tempted to be more active, which reduces your pain too,” he told Reuters Health.

For fatigue, symptoms were slightly worse on warmer days and on days with lower humidity, but these changes, again, were small.

Fatigue increased by 0.01 points for each degree Celsius increase in temperature and it dropped by 0.004 points for each one percent increase in humidity.

“Although some significant associations were found, this study provides more evidence against than in support of a uniform influence of weather conditions on daily pain and fatigue in female patients with fibromyalgia,” the authors write.

As a group, the women in the study did not report a consistent pattern in their symptoms relative to the weather.

For each weather condition, about one third of the women reported an increase in a symptom, one third showed a decrease and another one third reported no change.

Take, for instance, pain and the amount of sunshine on a given day.

About 32 percent of women reported no consistent change in symptoms if there was less or more sunshine.

Another 30.4 percent of women had greater pain on sunnier days and 37.6 percent of women had less pain on sunnier days.

“Our study indicated that an influence of weather on symptoms of fibromyalgia is not very common,” said Bossema.

“However, this does not imply that the symptoms do not exist,” she added.

Some women may very well be influenced by the weather, and it is important that future research identify the potential influences on fibromyalgia symptoms.

Silverman said it’s understandable why the researchers could not find clear patterns of links between weather and fibromyalgia symptoms.

Symptoms “are unpredictable and change day to day. It’s really hard to associate or find any causality, which is one of the problems in this paper,” he said.

Although the disorder is unpredictable, women should not be discouraged from seeking help, Silverman added, noting there are medications useful in managing fibromyalgia.

SOURCE: bit.ly/19uOMd4 Arthritis Care & Research, online June 4, 2013.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Preachers rail at NYPD at Eric Garner's funeral

Preacher after preacher stepped up to the pulpit at a sweltering Brooklyn church on Wednesday to express fury at the city's police force during the funeral of Eric Garner, who…

Local

Newark schools probed after claims of race discrimination

The U.S. Department of Education said on Wednesday it was investigating complaints that a plan to reorganize public schools in Newark, New Jersey, discriminates against black students.

National

Dogs are capable of feeling jealousy - U.S.…

By Curtis Skinner(Reuters) - Dogs are a man's best friend, and research released on Wednesday says canines want to keep it that way.Dogs are capable…

Local

G train riders brace for five-week shutdown

G train service will be suspended between Brooklyn and Queens between Friday, July 25, and Tuesday, Sept. 2.

Going Out

Where to go drinking on National Tequila Day…

Thursday is just close enough to the end of the week to make you envision yourself already sunning on a beach towel or lounging by…

Going Out

Things to do in NYC this week: July…

Performing arts A 70’s Summer Night Friday, 6:30 p.m. The Green Building 452 Union St., Gowanus $35, 347-529-6473 Party like it’s summer in the 1970s…

Going Out

5 must-try dishes at Edible Manhattan's Good Beer

Rooting out the exotic amid the New York City bar scene is noble quest. But if you’d like to have it all come to you,…

Books

Art imitates life (almost) in David Shapiro's new…

David Shapiro talks about his book, "You're Not Much Use To Anyone."

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

MLB

Brandon McCarthy finds his calling on Twitter

Yankees starter Brandon McCarthy joined Twitter three year ago for the same reason many people do: to get news quickly.

Sports

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Fantasy football: Johnny Manziel could give your running…

Fantasy football: Johnny Manziel could give your running game a boost

Food

Recharge with a post-workout smoothie from Nicky Hilton

Some people can roll out of bed right as their alarm goes off. And that alarm isn’t set for 20 minutes before they have to…

Education

Colleges are increasingly embracing the concept of gender-neutral…

  Northwestern University recently made headlines after announcing that it would be installing two gender-neutral bathrooms in the university's student center. “These are two gender-open…

Career

How to prepare to interview for your dream…

    Congratulations! You landed a job interview at your dream company! A lot of hard work has gone into determining which companies to apply…

Style

The shirtdress is a summer must-have

  We love throwing on our boyfriend’s shirt and a pair of jeans (no matter how much he grumbles that it’s his turn to wear the…