Relationship between synoptic weather type and emergency department visits for different types of pain across the Triangle region of North Carolina

Int J Biometeorol. 2020 Nov;64(11):1815-1823. doi: 10.1007/s00484-020-01966-1. Epub 2020 Aug 8.


Many people around the world are impacted by some form of bodily pain. Outside factors, such as weather, are thought to help trigger pain, especially in those who have pain-related conditions. When it comes to human health and comfort, understanding the potential external factors that aide in triggering pain is essential. Identifying such factors makes prevention and treatment of pain more feasible. This study focused on how those who suffer from various pain-related conditions (fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and general back pain) are impacted by different synoptic weather types (i.e., air masses). Synoptic weather types and emergency department (ED) visits for pain in select central North Carolina counties were collected over a seven-year period to determine a potential relationship. Bootstrapped confidence intervals revealed that moist tropical weather types resulted in the highest number of ED visits for each of the conditions examined, while moist polar weather types often resulted in the fewest. The barometric pressure changes associated with transitional weather types, which are often associated with fronts, did not have any significant relationships with pain.

Keywords: Arthritis; Emergency department; Fibromyalgia; Pain; Synoptic classification, weather type, air mass.

MeSH terms

  • Atmospheric Pressure
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Humans
  • North Carolina / epidemiology
  • Pain
  • Weather*