DO CHANGES IN THE WEATHER AFFECT MUSCLE PAIN?
Factors like the type of acute or chronic pain influence the ability to arrive at a reasoned opinion when faced with news articles concerning the influence of weather on muscle aches.
I recently saw a headline which said that an Australian study discarded that weather changes had an influence over muscle pain.
A debate was then started amongst physiotherapists on this topic, and I would like to make some comments both from a scientific point of view and a clinical one further to the forum where I had already commented on this. My goal is that information and headlines like this one can be contextualised and that the general public can have a reasoned opinion when faced with articles of this type.
The muscle aches, that many physiotherapists are sure are very influenced by changes in the weather, seem to be even more related with them when we talk about chronic pain. To start with it is surprising that the selection criterion be acute lower back pain episodes, which from my point of view discards the chance of clarifying and casting light on this hypothesis that as physios we have, and that many patients who suffer from chronic pain would not doubt on affirming.
Many times acute lower back pain episodes have a mechanic background, whilst chronic lower back pain, although it can have mechanical factors, is very much influenced by many other concomitant factors, one of which can be a change in the weather. We must not forget that in a sensitive nervous system, any small activating factor can generate an increase in the symptomatology of the patient and that sometimes there is no direct relationship between the stimulus or factor and the result or symptomatology.
Furthermore, if we take into account the viscoelastic component of muscles, it is reasonable to think that any change in weather or the exposure of a specific area of the body to damp or cold can trigger a new episode of muscle pain, which is a recognised factor as a possible cause of both acute episodes and also perpetuating chronic muscle pain.
It would be good to see a similar article regarding patients with chronic muscle pain, who are those in which this phenomenon seems to manifest itself, although meanwhile in conclusion we cannot say changes in the weather are not related to muscle pain, rather that in the case of acute lower back pain, it does not seem that changes in the weather are related, in which clinically we would find a wide consensus.