This study aimed to examine the effect of various weather conditions on risk of low back pain. A case-crossover study in primary care clinics in Sydney, Australia. 993 consecutive patients with a sudden, acute episode of back pain were recruited from October 2011 to November 2012 was conducted. After the pain onset, demographic and clinical data about the back pain episode were obtained for each participant during an interview. Weather parameters (temperature, relative humidity, air pressure, wind speed, wind gust, wind direction and precipitation) were procured from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology for the entire study period. Weather exposures in the case window (time when participants first noticed their back pain) were compared to exposures in two control time-windows (same time duration, one week and one month prior to the case window). Temperature, relative humidity, air pressure, wind direction and precipitation showed no association with onset of back pain. Higher wind speed (OR 1.17, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.32; p=0.01; for an increase of 11 km/h) and wind gust (OR 1.14, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.28; p=0.02; for an increase of 14 km/h) increased the odds of pain onset.
Weather parameters that have been linked to musculoskeletal pain such as temperature, relative humidity, air pressure, and precipitation do not raise the risk of a low back pain episode. Higher wind speed and wind gust speed produced a small increase in risk of back pain and while this reached statistical significance, the magnitude of the increase was not clinically important.