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Friday, 9 September 2016

Smartphone study on weather and pain reveals early data

A study looking at how the weather affects chronic pain has released some early, surprising results.
People across three UK cities reported less time in severe pain as the weather warmed up from February to April - but pain then increased again in June.
Researchers are collecting the data via a smartphone app and hope to shed scientific light on the idea that we can "feel the weather in our bones".
They presented a project update at the British Science Festival in Swansea.
Eventually, the "Cloudy with a Chance of Pain" project will match up individual responses with local weather patterns, based on GPS data from the participants' phones.
Because the app also asks people about their mood, this more detailed analysis will also reveal whether the weather has an affect beyond simply making people happier.
For the moment, however, even a preliminary month-by-month overview of the combined pain data from Leeds, Norwich and London - alongside the general weather pattern for those cities - shows that there is more to this much-discussed interaction than we might expect.
"This is just a quick snapshot," said project lead Will Dixon, a rheumatologist and professor of digital epidemiology at the University of Manchester.
"But one interesting thing it does is [challenge] that really common belief... that joints get worse if it's cold. Actually, the pain got worse [again] from April to June, and that was the one time when the temperature really went up.
"So it doesn't fit with that really common hypothesis."
Prof Dixon and his colleagues are still seeking more participants, and will be collecting data until April 2017.


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