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Fibromyalgia Pain and the Weather

  • Synopsis: Published: 2011-11-14 (Revised/Updated 2015-03-18) - Large percentage of people claim the weather directly affects their fibromyalgia symptoms and pain levels - Disabled World (Disabled World).

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Quote: "In addition, pain was related to high humidity and high atmospheric pressure among rheumatoid arthritis patients, and high humidity among osteoarthritis patients..."

People with fibromyalgia often claim their symptoms can vary according to temperature changes with symptoms worsening for some, and providing relief for others.

In 1981, a study reported that a large percentage of Fibromyalgia patients may be more sensitive to changes in weather compared to non-Fibromyalgia subjects. They stated 90% of patients reported weather was one of the most important factors influencing their Fibromyalgia symptoms.

Changes may be experienced in:

  • Feeling more tired (fatigue)
  • Sleeping more poorly (sleep dysfunction)
  • Additional, specific pains, like migraine headaches
  • All over, more generalized pain, like muscles aches

A Reuters Health Report Article Stated:

fig 1. The location of the 9 paired tender points that comprise the 1990 American College of Rheumatology criteria for fibromyalgia.
fig 1. The location of the 9 paired tender points that comprise the 1990 American College of Rheumatology criteria for fibromyalgia.

Cool temperatures, humidity and high atmospheric pressure may be associated with spontaneous pain among individuals with arthritis or fibromyalgia, new study findings show.

"These results support the belief that weather influences rheumatic pain, albeit in different ways, depending on the (underlying disease) and (the patient's) weather sensitivity," report Dr. Ingrid Strusberg of the Centro Reumatologico Strusberg in Cordoba City, Argentina, and her colleagues.

Strusberg's team analyzed questionnaire responses from 151 individuals with fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. In the study, participants reported on their pain symptoms and causes over one year. For comparison, the researchers also looked at 32 healthy individuals. These reports were correlated with meteorological data for the Cordoba area.

The researchers found that for participants with all three conditions, pain was significantly associated with low temperature.

In addition, pain was related to high humidity and high atmospheric pressure among rheumatoid arthritis patients, and high humidity among osteoarthritis patients, according to findings published in the February issue of the Journal of Rheumatology.

For those with fibromyalgia, pain was associated with low temperature and high atmospheric pressure. No correlation between weather and pain was found among individuals in the comparison group, the authors note.

According to Strusberg's team, the idea that weather affects joint pain is an "ancient belief" that still persists. But experts question whether this effect is a true physiological phenomenon or just a "false notion" of a relationship where there is none.

"Our study," they write, "supports the possibility that meteorological factors can have some effect on spontaneous pain in rheumatic patients." SOURCE: Journal of Rheumatology 2002;29:335-338 -

Weather factors that appear to affect Fibromyalgia symptoms include:

  • Temperature: Rapid changes in temperature and cold tend to irritate while warm temperatures are less troublesome.
  • Humidity: The amount of water vapor present in air. Humidity is associated with headaches, stiffness and widespread pain flare-ups in Fibromyalgia patients.
  • Wind: Wind usually causes a decrease in barometric pressure regardless of its force and therefore can trigger fatigue, headache, and muscle pain in Fibromyalgia patients.
  • Precipitation: This refers to any type of water that falls from the sky to the ground (rain, sleet, snow, hail) and is usually associated with a change (usually a drop) in barometric pressure. This can result in increased pain and fatigue in Fibromyalgia patients
  • Barometric Pressure: This is the measure of weight (pressure) that is exerted by the air that is all around us. Sunny days create a high barometric pressure while storms result in a sudden drop. These changes can trigger muscle aches in Fibromyalgia patients.

Medications that may help relieve Fibromyalgia pain include:

Reliv, a medication used by some patients who have reported success. Another is Pregabalin (Lyrica), an FDA approved medication for fibromyalgia that works in the central nervous system to slow or reduce certain nerve signals. It has proven effective for some with fibromyalgia. Also a combination of Robaxim and Methadone can help with the pain. In extreme cases Steroidal drugs such as Prednisone have been used to help when there is excess swelling in the joint, this seems to add some relief. However, medication that works for one person may have no effect on another. Your Rheumatologist and even your primary care physician can play an instrumental role in help identifying which medications work best in those various situations.

Related Information:

  1. What causes Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can be caused by a whole range of factors. All of which, it is most likely your doctor or practitioner will not be able to diagnose.
  2. Fibromyalgia and Neuropathic Pain - Differences and Similarities - Patients with diabetic neuropathy (DPN) and fibromyalgia differ substantially in pathogenetic factors and the spatial distribution of the perceived pain.
  3. New Fibromyalgia Disability Ruling from Social Security Administration - Disability Rights Law Center- Alex Boudov, Attorney at Law - (2012-08-04)

Information from our Fibromyalgia: Pain, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment section - (Full List).

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