Although patients often report increased pain associated with changes in the weather, the results of an Australian study suggest that weather conditions do not increase the risk for low back pain.
The study, published online on July 10, 2014, in Arthritis Care & Research, investigated the relationship between weather conditions and lower back pain. Researchers of the study recruited 993 patients with a sudden, acute episode of back pain from primary care clinics in Sydney, Australia, from 2011 to 2012. Patients were interviewed about the pain episode, and weather data were collected from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
The results of the study indicated that temperature, relative humidity, air pressure, wind direction, and precipitation were not associated with the onset of back pain. Higher wind speed and wind gust, however, were linked with a small increase in the risk of back pain. When wind speed increased by 11 kilometers per hour, the odds ratio for pain increased to 1.17. When wind gust increased by 14 kilometers per hour, the odds ratio increased to 1.14.
“[W]hile this [relationship] reached statistical significance, the magnitude of the increase was not clinically important,” the authors of the study suggest.