How the weather affects the pain of citizen scientists using a smartphone app

by | Apr 16, 2020 | Pain and fatigue | 0 comments

Approximately 75% of people with long-term pain conditions, such as arthritis, believe weather affects their pain. Many report pain is made worse by the cold. Others report pain is made worse by the warm. And others report damp or rainy weather aggravates pain. To understand which weather conditions affect pain most, a group of University of Manchester–based researchers and their collaborators conducted a 15-month study with over 13,000 UK residents living with chronic pain called “Cloudy with a Chance of Pain”. Participants recorded their daily pain intensity within a smartphone app. GPS locations of their phones would then link to local weather data. Analyzing 5.1 million pain reports, researchers compared, within each individual, the weather on days a significant increase in pain was experienced to the weather on days no such pain increase was experienced. They found days with higher humidity, lower pressure, and stronger winds are more likely associated with high pain days, a result consistent with the beliefs of many of the participants. A deeper understanding of the effects of the environment on pain may allow scientists to better understand the mechanisms that cause pain and allow the development of new and more effective treatments for those who live with pain.

A longer lay summary is available here:


Dixon W, Beukenhorst A, Birlie B, Cook L, Gasparrini A, El-Hay T et al. How the Weather Affects the Pain of Citizen Scientists Using a Smartphone App. n p j Digital Medicine. 2019 Oct 24;2. 105. DOI: 10.1038/s41746-019-0180-3