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Cloudy with a chance of pain

Award Details

  • Principal Investigator
    Professor William Dixon
  • Type of grant
    Special Strategic Award
  • Amount Awarded
  • Institute
    University of Manchester
  • Location
  • Status
  • Start Date
  • Grant reference number
  • Condition
    Osteoarthritis, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis

What are the aims of this research?

This large population study and “citizen science” experiment aims to investigate the association between weather and symptoms in people with arthritis and other conditions of chronic pain, such as fibromyalgia. Patients will be asked to input their daily symptoms, such as pain intensity, into a study application (app) on their smartphone or tablet. This data will then be linked to the weather where they are using their devices global positioning system to get information from their nearest weather station.

Why is this research important?

Up to 80% of people who consult their GP about a musculoskeletal condition believe their symptoms are influenced by the weather. This research project will, for the first time, discover whether there is a scientific basis to this belief. This project will increase our understanding of the relationship between weather and pain, and the results will allow further knowledge on how certain weather patterns influence pain and stiffness. Identification of an association between tracked activity (e.g. daily step counts) and disease severity would also lead towards less invasive ways of monitoring for clinical care and research.

How will the findings benefit patients?

Developing a clearer understanding of the relationship between arthritis, or other conditions of chronic pain, and the weather has potential for patient benefit in a number of ways, from predicting symptom changes (symptom forecasts) through to new interventions targeted at aspects of the weather, such as pressure or humidity. The ‘symptom forecasts’ would allow patients to plan their activities in accordance with when they might be more symptomatic. Future outcomes of this work might be targeted interventions for instance controlling pressure around a troublesome joint.

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