The Impact of Cold Weather on Fibromyalgia Symptoms

As Pain Doctors frequently explain: some fibromyalgia patients commonly tell them that they are sensitive to changes in the weather. To that end, within a general fibromyalgia diagnosis, weather sensitivity is classed as a minor criteria [1]. So now let’s take a dive into the research,.

It’s commonplace for sufferers to tell their Pain Consultants about: “worsening of pain with the cold weather. One possible explanation is that cold weather keeps many people less active, leading to physical de-conditioning that can contribute to more pain. In addition, in individuals with fibromyalgia who also have arthritis, cold weather can contribute to stiffness around the joints which can increase the overall pain experience. A drop in atmospheric pressure may also increase joint swelling, which can exacerbate pain” [2]

Putting a Spotlight on Fibromyalgia Research

Of note, there is very little scientific evidence that is linked to strong weather-pain experienced by sufferers. Moreover, current evidence does not reinforce a uniform influence of particular weather conditions on fibromyalgia patients’ daily pain [1]. There are however, some studies which do indicate that barometric pressure impacts fibromyalgia pain.

Of note, a recent study shows that: “in fibromyalgia patients, the belief that the weather affects pain scores, is one of the main factors that affects pain sensitivity in relation to weather” [2].
In this research project, fibromyalgia sufferers were asked to rate their pain scores pertaining to a number of weather parameters. These included: temperature, sunlight, relative humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind speed, and cloudiness [2].

When the results were analysed in relation to different weather conditions and climates, and the viability that pain generated from fibromyalgia, could enable patients to predict the weather on the same, or the following day: “the study found no association between weather changes and fibromyalgia pain on the same or the next day” [2]. Moreover, it was also determined that the severity, or onset of sufferers’ pain, does not indicate weather changes on either the same or the next day.

Furthermore, the research also argued that sufferers who had received a fibromyalgia diagnosis within the last 10 years, showed a substantially higher weather sensitivity to pain. In addition,
the existence of depression and anxiety, resulted in a higher level of reports on weather sensitive pain [2].

Advice From Leading Pain Doctors

When you consult a Pain Specialist in order to ensure that you receive an accurate diagnosis; or conversely, if you consult a Pain Consultant because your condition has not been helped by your GP (GPs are not normally trained or experienced in pain medicine), then apart from devising a Holistic Personalised Treatment Plan (which usually involves both conventional, and the latest cutting-edge treatments), your Pain Doctor will also give you some everyday advice. This includes:

• Staying as active as possible (be it indoor or outdoor activities). These should be approved by you Pain Doctor.
• Dressing as warmly as possible by using layers. Example include: thermal undergarments, pure wool jumpers and cardigans, woollen socks, warm trousers, possibly with leggings on underneath, jackets or coats designed for cold climates, etc. (Sports shops, and shops that sell climbing gear, have many suitable warm, wind and waterproof clothes).
• Always check the temperature for the rest of the day and evening before your plan going out. Then, if it is too cold, unless it is urgent, cancel your plans

And remember, during the cold weather, some of our blood flow is automatically diverted towards our vital organs (e.g,. our lungs, heart, and kidneys), in order to keep them functioning. This deprives our muscles and joints from their usual level of warmth, thus resulting in aches and pain. Moreover, during the winter months, our muscles are inclined to lose more heat, and contract [3].


[1]. Mandal, A. (2023). “Fibromyalgia and Weather/Seasonal Changes.” Medical Life Sciences.

[2]. Herrell, K. (2014). “Cold weather hits fibromyalgia sufferers hard.” University of Cincinnati

[3]. Memon, N. (2022). “Does Being Cold Make Your Muscles Ache?” Medicine Net.

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