FOTO Rehab Outcomes Blog

Weather and Acute Low Back Pain

Written by Selena Horner | Feb 6, 2017 11:00:00 AM


When you look at where this study occurs, the results may not be easily extrapolable. For example, I live in Michigan which has a winter season. During the winter season, snow, slush, sleet (precipitation) and ice are real weather conditions. These weather conditions result in a spurt of physical activity for some individuals who are typically sedentary. (We are well aware of cardiac conditions occurring during this season, especially after a snowfall.) Parking lots and sidewalks may not always be free of ice which may result in slip and falls. Then, of course, there is a higher frequency of motor vehicle accidents resulting in a variety of injuries.

Acute low back injuries may be tied to weather conditions, it just depends on where you live. Typically 2-4 weeks after a heavy snowfall or ice conditions, I have individuals who are experiencing acute low back pain related to the weather. I have a feeling there are even more individuals who experience weather related acute low back pain, but they do not choose to seek services for their discomfort.

Here's a quick view of the abstract. 

Does weather affect daily pain intensity levels in patients with acute low back pain? A prospective cohort study.



The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of various weather parameters on pain intensity levels in patients with acute low back pain (LBP). We performed a secondary analysis using data from the PACE trial that evaluated paracetamol (acetaminophen) in the treatment of acute LBP. Data on 1604 patients with LBP were included in the analysis. Weather parameters (precipitation, temperature, relative humidity, and air pressure) were obtained from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Pain intensity was assessed daily on a 0-10 numerical pain rating scale over a 2-week period. A generalised estimating equation analysis was used to examine the relationship between daily pain intensity levels and weather in three different time epochs (current day, previous day, and change between previous and current days). A second model was adjusted for important back pain prognostic factors. The analysis did not show any association between weather and pain intensity levels in patients with acute LBP in each of the time epochs. There was no change in strength of association after the model was adjusted for prognostic factors. Contrary to common belief, the results demonstrated that the weather parameters of precipitation, temperature, relative humidity, and air pressure did not influence the intensity of pain reported by patients during an episode of acute LBP.

Rheumatol Int. 2016 May;36(5):679-84. doi: 10.1007/s00296-015-3419-6. Epub 2016 Jan 12.