MANCHESTER, England, Sept. 7 (UPI) -- Weather has a measurable effect on pain levels experienced by people dealing with chronic pain. That is the conclusion of a recent survey, called the Cloudy project, which had more than 9,000 participants in England record daily pain levels using a smartphone app.
The app helped participants in Leeds, Norwich and London plot their pain symptoms over the course of 18 months. Researchers at the University of Manchester used the data to tease out the relationship between weather and pain.
The smartphone application automatically recorded local weather information when a study participant logged pain symptoms. The data set revealed a consistent correlation between pain and rain and lack of sunshine.
As winter turned to spring, and the sun showed its face more often, pain levels dropped and severe pain was experienced less often. However, as early spring gave way to June and an uptick in rainy days, the frequency of severe pain symptoms rose once again.
Scientists say more research -- and more study participants -- is necessary to explore the links between pain and weather.
"Once the link is proven, people will have the confidence to plan their activities in accordance with the weather," Will Dixon, a professor of digital epidemiology at Manchester's School of Biological Sciences, said in a news release. "In addition, understanding how weather influences pain will allow medical researchers to explore new pain interventions and treatments."
Dixon and his colleagues presented their analysis of the initial Cloud project data at the British Science Festival this week.
"To work out the details of how weather influences pain, we need as many people as possible to participate in the study and track their symptoms on their smartphone," Dixon said. "If you are affected by chronic pain, this is your chance to take do something personally -- and easily -- to lead to a breakthrough in our understanding of pain."