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26
January
2016

Cloudy with a chance of pain!

  • The world's first smartphone-based study to investigate the association between pain and the weather
  • Anyone in the UK with arthritis or chronic pain and aged over 17 can take part
  • The information could be used for generating pain forecasts, allowing people to plan their weekly activities
Cloudy+app

It’s a mystery that’s perplexed people for over 2,000 years, but now University of Manchester scientists are on the verge of working out if the weather affects pain in people with arthritis and other conditions, all thanks to the British public and their smartphones.

Cloudy with a Chance of Pain, which launches today (26 January) is the world's first smartphone-based study to investigate the association between pain and the weather. The study will be carried out during 2016 using a smartphone platform called uMotif which people will use to record how they’re feeling, whilst local weather data is automatically collected using the phone's GPS.

Anyone in the UK with arthritis or chronic pain and aged over 17 can take part. All participants need is a smartphone.

Click here to download the app and take part.

Dr Will Dixon, Director of The University of Manchester’s Arthritis Research UK Centre for Epidemiology and Honorary Consultant Rheumatologist at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, came up with the idea. He said: “This question has been around for more than 2,000 years, but it’s only now with widespread modern technology that we have the ability to answer it.

“And we’re not just inviting people to submit data – we want their ideas about the association between weather and pain too. We will be running a big citizen science experiment where anyone can explore the data and try and spot patterns and relationships in the data. We’ll gather ideas and theories from everyone to come up the best possible conclusion.”

The University of Manchester research is supported by Arthritis Research UK, uMotif in London, and the Office for Creative Research in New York. It is being carried out in association with the University’s Health e-Research Centre.

Those who choose to use the uMotif app will record their symptoms each day, which will be tied into automatically collected local weather information. Even people who don’t have pain will be able to participate by browsing through the data and submitting their own ideas.

Once the project ends in January 2017, the research team will also carry out a formal analysis and hope to use the information for generating pain forecasts, allowing people to plan their weekly activities.

Stephen Simpson, Director of Research & Programmes at Arthritis Research UK said: “Many people with arthritis believe that changes in the weather affect the level of pain they experience, however there is currently no scientific evidence to support this relationship.

“This exciting study will for the first time enable us to investigate the link between pain and the weather. We’re delighted to support this project and we hope that the use of the uMotif app will help encourage a wide group of participants to take part, both in terms of submitting their data but also examining the results themselves to help our scientists reach a conclusion.”

Dr Dixon added: “People taking part in this study will be helping to answer a question that even the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, couldn’t resolve, and which hasn’t been resolved since. That’s what epidemiology is all about – drawing patterns and inspiration from large groups of people to provide insights which we couldn’t otherwise achieve –this time with the help of their smartphones.”

Follow the project on Twitter @CloudyPain

Click here to download the app and take part.

This question has been around for more than 2,000 years, but it’s only now with widespread modern technology that we have the ability to answer it.
Dr Will Dixon
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Comments (18)
Kathy Tyrrell |
03
Apr
2016
I have osteoarthritis in both knees and this can be very painful at all times. I struggle from day to day with extreme pain. I also have a AchillesTendinophy in both ankles which don't help the situation either. Also struggling with an shoulder impingement on my right shoulder as well.
Kellie Bernsen |
05
Feb
2016
I have TN. ATN,
Ann Grundy |
04
Feb
2016
I too suffer from fibromyalgia hate winter months feel so lifeless want too sleep all the time take more pain killers in these months
Christine |
03
Feb
2016
Will this app work on an iPad?
Claire Deakin |
03
Feb
2016
The weather makes a big difference to me. I have Lupus , reynaulds , osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. Symptoms are always worse when the weather goes very cold / wet.
Mrs Amanda curnow |
03
Feb
2016
I suffer from asthma and just recently been diagnosed with copd. I am 47 years old and I certainly find the weather can trigger my symptoms.
Alan Williams |
03
Feb
2016
I have rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis. I find it more painful in the summer when I is really hot. Although it is painful in extreme cold.
Joanne Webb |
03
Feb
2016
I have fybromyalgia and degenerative spine disease. I am in incredible pain during the winter months even though i take morphine, codeine,gabapenthin and amitriptyline. As soon as the weather warms up I'm a lot better and whilst abroad I'm like a different person.
John Divine |
03
Feb
2016
I have osteoarthritis and know that changes in temperature make a difference to the level of pain I have. I would like to take part in this study.
Hazel Robinson |
03
Feb
2016
I have psoriatic arthritis and take methotrexate and also once a week Enbrel injections. I know the weather in the north east where I live does affect my symptoms. I would be pleased to take part
Paul Bryant |
03
Feb
2016
I suffer severe pain in scar tissue as a result of heart bypass surgery the pain is always worst with dramatic changes in air pressure / weather conditions would reporting via the app be any good I do not suffer from arthritis
Annalize Gill |
03
Feb
2016
I suffer from Fybromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue and arthritis ...the cold and damp are horrendous for people who have these conditions.
Karen Tracey |
03
Feb
2016
Yes cold damp weather gives me chronic pain
Beryl Beckett |
03
Feb
2016
i have fibromyalgia arthritis and chronic fatigue and when it is damp and cold it makes the pain worse .
Graham Dawson |
03
Feb
2016
I had a smashed fibular head in my right leg and had to undergo surgery. Unfortunately it was all complicated by necrotising fasciitis. After extensive debridement and skin grafting the fibular was never repaired. My leg aches very much so when the weather turns cold, wintery.
Ann Alston |
03
Feb
2016
Weather sure does impact !!!!!! The colder it gets the worse my symptoms get. Get me cosy warm
Alan Spearman |
03
Feb
2016
I suffer from Fybromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue and arthritis ...the cold and damp are horrendous for people who have these conditions. I went on holiday to Spain a few years back, I saw my doctor afterwards and as soon as I walked in she remarked at how well I looked ...I had only been away four days, The sun is a better tonic than any drug, although you still need pain killers . The affect on stress and depression caused by being poorly all the time is priceless. I have had conversations with Professor Kim Lawson in the past he is studying these illnesses.
sonia freeman |
03
Feb
2016
yes i have to chronic illness and the weither effects both
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