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PLoS One. 2019 May 10;14(5):e0216902. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0216902. eCollection 2019.

Blame it on the weather? The association between pain in fibromyalgia, relative humidity, temperature and barometric pressure.

Author information

1
Norwegian Center for E-Health Research, Tromsø, Norway.
2
Department of Psychology, UiT The Arctic University of Norway UiT, Tromsø, Norway.
3
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, The Regional Unit for Eating Disorders, The University Hospital of North Norway, Tromsø, Norway.

Abstract

Self-reported pain levels in patients with fibromyalgia may change according to weather conditions. Previous studies suggest that low barometric pressure (BMP) is significantly related to increased pain, but that the contribution of changes in BMP has limited clinical relevance. The present study examined whether BMP influenced variability in perceived stress, and if stress levels moderated or mediated the relationship between BMP and pain. Forty-eight patients with fibromyalgia enrolled in a randomized controlled trail (RCT) reported pain and emotional state three times daily with mobile phone messages for a 30-consecutive day period prior to the start of the treatment in the RCT. The patients were unaware that weather data were collected simultaneously with pain and emotional reports. The results showed that lower BMP and increased humidity were significantly associated with increased pain intensity and pain unpleasantness, but only BMP was associated with stress levels. Stress levels moderated the impact of lower BMP on pain intensity significantly, where higher stress was associated with higher pain. Significant individual differences were present shown by a sub-group of patients (n = 8) who reacted opposite compared to the majority of patients (n = 40) with increased pain reports to an increase in BMP. In sum, lower BMP was associated with increased pain and stress levels in the majority of the patients, and stress moderated the relationship between BMP and pain at the group-level. Significant individual differences in response to changes in BMP were present, and the relation between weather and pain may be of clinical relevance at the individual level.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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