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Separating weather forecasts from pain

Katie Cowart

Millions of Americans suffer from pain-inducing conditions such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. New research from the University of Georgia shows significant association between warm, tropical air masses and emergency room visits for these conditions.

But not in the way we might think:

The new research by Christopher Elcik, lecturer of geography and atmospheric sciences in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, suggests pain flare-ups are a result of physical activity rather than atmospheric pressure.

The new study was published Aug. 8 in the International Journal of Biometeorology.

People who suffer from chronic pain often report flare-ups based on the weather. Cooperation among doctors and meteorologists has led to the creation of the term meteoropathy, defined as the symptoms or reactions, including pain, that are associated with atmospheric conditions.

“The goal was to find a link between pain and air masses, and do some type of pain forecasting,” said Elcik. “If you take medication early enough, you can reduce some of your symptoms with a lot of these conditions. This could help people and give them a little bit of a warning.”


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