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Smartphone app could help uncover link between weather and chronic pain

By Lauren Brown

Published 03/02/2016

Many people with arthritis believe that changes in the weather affect the level of pain they experience
Many people with arthritis believe that changes in the weather affect the level of pain they experience

Scientists are investigating if the weather really does affect those who suffer with chronic pain.

Doctors from the University of Manchester have launched Cloudy with a Chance of Pain, the world's first smartphone-based study to investigate the association between pain and the weather.

Although there is currently no scientific evidence to support the relationship, many people with arthritis believe that changes in the weather affect the level of pain they experience.

The study will take place over a year with researchers carrying out a formal analysis with a view to using the information to generate "pain forecasts" in order for people to plan their weekly activities.

Participants need to be over the age of 17 and suffer with arthritis or chronic pain.

They can download the uMotif app which will be used to record their symptoms each day - whilst local weather data is automatically collected using the phone's GPS.

Even people who do not have pain are being urged to participate by browsing through the data and submitting their own ideas and theories about the association.

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."

He hopes the big citizen science which is being supported by Arthritis Research UK, uMotif in London, and the Office for Creative Research in New York, will disclose patterns and relationships in the data to come up with the best possible conclusion.

For more information visit CloudyWithaChanceofPain.com

You can also follow the project on Twitter @CloudyPain.

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