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Weather and Your Aching Back

Don’t blame the weather for your backache – it probably has nothing to do with it. Researchers in Australia took a critical look at the common belief that back pain is weather related, and found that apart from a clinically insignificant link between wind speed and gusts, there’s no connection between backache and rain, temperature, barometric pressure or relative humidity. The research team, from the University of Sydney, reviewed 993 cases of sudden, acute back pain reported by patients in primary care clinics in Sydney from October 2011 to November 2012. They compared reports of back pain with weather information provided by Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology – for each case, the investigators checked the weather one week before and one month before the date each patient first reported back pain. The researchers made the point that their findings apply only to back pain, not to the effect of weather on pain associated with arthritis and fibromyalgia as well as other diseases. The study was published online July 10, 2014 by Arthritis Care & Research.

Surprising Migraine Trigger

New research demonstrates that lightning might be a possible trigger for migraines and severe headaches. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati found a 31 percent increased risk of headache and a 28 percent increased risk of migraine among individuals who suffer from chronic headaches on days lighting struck within 25 miles of their homes. This study was the first to show a potential link between lightning and headaches. Previous studies have reported conflicting links between headaches and other weather-related changes such as humidity and barometric pressure. The researchers recruited participants for the study from sites in Ohio and Missouri and asked them to record their headache activity in a daily journal for three to six months. Meanwhile, the researchers noted the location of lightning strikes within 25 miles of participants’ homes and recorded the magnitude and polarity of lightning current. Researcher Vincent Martin, M.D. suggested that the headaches could be triggered by electromagnetic waves emitted from lighting or the increases in ozone and other air pollution caused by the electrical discharge, as well as the release of fungal spores associated with lightning.

Geoffrey V. Martin and Vincent T. Martin, et al, “Lightning and its association with the frequency of headache in migraineurs: An observational cohort study”. Cephalalgia, January 24, 2013 DOI: 10.1177/0333102412474502