Weather Doesn't Trigger Fibromyalgia Symptoms: Study
But some patients still may be more sensitive than others
By Mary Elizabeth Dallas
TUESDAY, June 4 (HealthDay News) -- Although some people with fibromyalgia are sensitive to changes in temperature, sunshine and precipitation, new research shows that weather conditions do not affect the pain or fatigue associated with this chronic condition.
"Our analyses provide more evidence against, than in support of, the daily influence of weather on fibromyalgia pain and fatigue," said study first author Ercolie Bossema from Utrecht University in the Netherlands.
The study, published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, involved nearly 350 women with fibromyalgia, a chronic syndrome that causes unexplained pain, fatigue, headaches and sleep disturbances. The women were 47 years old, on average, and had been diagnosed almost two years earlier. They were asked about symptoms of pain and fatigue over the course of 28 days, during which time the researchers also recorded weather conditions, including outside temperature, sunshine duration, precipitation, atmospheric pressure and relative humidity, as reported by the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute.
Changes in weather showed a significant but small effect on pain or fatigue symptoms for 10 percent of cases. Significant, small differences between patients' responses to weather also were found in 20 percent of cases.
The researchers said differences among the women's response to weather conditions did not appear linked to functional or mental health status, demographics or seasonal or weather-related variations.
In the United States, 5 million people have fibromyalgia, many more of them women than men. Although the cause of this chronic pain syndrome is unclear, previous studies have suggested some people with fibromyalgia are more sensitive to certain stimuli. Up to 92 percent of people with this condition report a worsening of symptoms because of weather conditions.
"Previous research has investigated weather conditions and changes in fibromyalgia symptoms, but an association remains unclear," Bossema said in a journal news release.
The study's authors said future research on this issue should include more patient characteristics, such as personality traits and beliefs about chronic pain, in order to explain individual differences in weather sensitivity.