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
News

Boston Strong: One year on from Boston Marathon…

  For more than a century the Boston Marathon has been an even centred around sportsmanship, endurance and athleticism, but there's no denying the face…

Local

Hillary Clinton headed to Boston for women's leadership…

Former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to visit Massachusetts Wednesday amid continuing speculation about making another bid for the presidency in 2016.

Local

Boston Marathon: Marathoners ready to run, honor victims

Scores of runners will cross the Boston Marathon starting line in Hopkinton Monday and embark on a 26.2-mile journey to Boston in honor of the victims.

Local

MIT student, Rhodes scholar, dies

Eliana Hechter, a student at MIT and Harvard, died, her family said. The announcement was posted on MIT's website.

Television

‘Mad Men’ recap: Season 7, Episode 2, ‘A…

Peggy and Lou are horrible, Bert's racist, Don is honest(ish) and Roger and Pete are frustrated. "A Day's Work" not quite worthy of "This Will Be Our Year."

Television

'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox walk off with…

Red Sox pick up first walk off win of 2014

MLB

Red Sox and Orioles meet Monday morning at…

Red Sox and Orioles meet Monday morning at 11 a.m.

NHL

NHL video highlights: Bruins smack down Red Wings…

NHL video highlights: Bruins smack down Red Wings in Game 2

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox defeat Orioles, 4-2

Brock Holt the difference in the Red Sox' win

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.