People with arthritis are more likely to feel pain on humid, windy days - meaning it may be possible for sufferers to plan activities around a pain forecast.
Scientists from the University of Manchester found sufferers were 20% more likely to be in pain on days that are humid and windy with low atmospheric pressure than on days with average weather.
The study, funded by the charity Versus Arthritis, examined data from 2,658 people, who provided daily data on pain levels on most days for around six months.
The group had a range of different health issues, predominantly arthritis, but also including fibromyalgia, migraine and neuropathic pain.
According to the research, humid days were the most likely to be painful, whereas dry days were the least likely.
Low pressure and higher wind speed were also linked to more painful days, although to a lesser extent than humidity.
The researchers found no solid link with changing temperature or rainfall, although cold days that were also damp and windy could be more painful.
As part of the study, participants used a dedicated smartphone app to record daily symptoms which were then compared with local weather reports based on the phone’s GPS.
Professor Will Dixon, from the University of Manchester, who led the study, said: “Weather has been thought to affect symptoms in patients with arthritis since Hippocrates.
“Around three quarters of people living with arthritis believe their pain is affected by the weather.
“Yet, despite much research examining the existence and nature of this relationship, there remains no scientific consensus.
“Our analysis showed that on damp and windy days with low pressure the chances of experiencing more pain, compared to an average day, was around 20%.
“Given we can forecast the weather, it may be possible to develop a pain forecast knowing the relationship between weather and pain.
“This would allow people who suffer from chronic pain to plan their activities, completing harder tasks on days predicted to have lower levels of pain.”
Dr Stephen Simpson, director of research at Versus Arthritis, said: “We know that of the 10 million people in the UK with arthritis, over half experience life-altering pain every day.
“Supporting effective ways of self-managing pain can make all the difference for people with arthritis, helping them to get and stay in work, to be full members of the community and simply to belong.
“This research will help us understand the bigger picture of the complexity of pain caused by arthritis and how people with the condition can take control of it.”