Archive for "April, 2017"

Is There a Link Between Weather and Pain?

blog Apr 18, 2017 No Comments

Pain is that uncomfortable feeling in one or more parts of your body that is seeking attention. It is the body’s way of telling you something is not right and to seek help to resolve the pain. Some examples of pain include migraines, pinched nerves, broken bones, ear aches, pulled muscles, toothaches, and stomach aches. Other types of pain can come from surgery or surgical procedures. Pain also includes chronic pain, back pain or even fibromyalgia.

Pain has been reported by many to become worse when the temperature changes, but is there actually a link between weather and pain?

Pain and Temperature Connections

Many people suffering from pain will tell you they feel worse when a rain is headed their way. Some may say their arthritis flares up when a barometric pressure change approaches. Others may claim to notice differences in pain when the temperature is hot or cold. Everyone has that family member who swears their knee pain predicts stormy weather. And they are usually right in their predictions.

The link between weather and pain is debated among professionals. There are a few scientific studies to support a relationship between pain and temperature changes. If you ask people dealing with pain and temperature changes, however, they will tell you that they do notice a difference. Their joints may ache more when the temperature gets colder, or warmer, or when humidity is high. It’s the opinion of those suffering from pain that matters the most.

Knowing the various types of pain and how different temperatures can affect the body’s pain is an important first step. This knowledge can help you implement sound tips to control the aches and pains that may be associated with weather conditions.

The diverse types of pain are identified by the length of time they have existed. Once your type of pain is identified, you can begin to manage the pain you have.

Types of Pain

Three main types of pain include somatic, visceral and neuropathic. All three of these can be diagnosed as acute pain or chronic pain. Acute pain usually only lasts a few months and happens when soft tissue is damaged. An example may be a sprained wrist or minor cut or burn. Acute pain is less likely to need pain management and most likely will not be affected by weather changes. Chronic pain, on the other hand, lasts much longer than just a few months. It can last years, even without being able to identify the source of pain. Those with chronic pain can feel the severe effects that cold and hot temperatures have on the body.

Managing pain when the temperature changes is a problem faced by many. There are meaningful tips you can implement based on which temperature affects your pain the most.

Cold Temperatures

Chilly weather causes pain for many people with chronic pain, whether that pain is in their joints or back or other parts of the body. When the weather gets colder, inflamed tissues in your body can swell. Because nerves and muscles are sensitive to colder weather, they can create an uncomfortable feeling in the body. Muscles can become tense when the temperature outside gets colder and this too will make your nerves feel pain.

A 2007 study at Tufts University found that those with arthritis felt more and more pain with every 10 degrees drop in temperature. The colder they were, the worse their pain. Unfortunately, this is similar to those who face increased pain when hot temperatures arrive.

Hot Temperatures

The heat and humidity can also create a great deal of discomfort for those suffering from joint or back pain. This may be due to the hot weather increasing inflammation in the body or because it is difficult for some to regulate internal temperatures during weather changes.

Our bodies have set a natural threshold of pain that we can tolerate. When there is a temperature that is out of your “ordinary” zones of tolerance, the brain interprets this as painful. This pain surfaces as joint pain, back pain, headaches, sinus pains and many other internal and external discomforts.

Whether your pain is increased with cold or hot temperatures, there are many ways you can manage your pain during weather changes.

Pain Management Tips for  Warmer Temperatures

Woman with Pain in Her Lower Back

When it starts getting hot outside, make sure your body is balanced with cooling activities such as sitting in a room that has air conditioning. You can also keep a cool towel around the body parts that are feeling pain. Engage in activities that ease your pain. These can include massage, acupuncture or even stretching. You do not want to participate in activities that put strain on your body. Don’t try to run a marathon in sweltering heat if you have a knee or joint pains. Instead, go swimming or join a water aerobics class.

Drinking a lot of water is a terrific way to help your body regulate its own internal temperatures. Some doctors recommend the “r.i.c.e.” plan. This includes resting, putting ice on the painful area, compression on the area and elevating the area. They also say to keep active because joints can stiffen quickly. Keeping active does not mean overdoing it. Listen to your body as to how much you can participate in activities and when your body says stop, you should stop and rest.

Pain Management Tips for Colder Weather

Keep moving may be the last thing you want to hear when you are feeling pain due to wintry weather changes. However, keeping the joints active will help them stay loose and not stiff. Another tip to manage pain in the winter months is to eat a healthy diet. You can also take a supplement such as vitamin D, which is associated with improving mood levels which are often depressed during winter months. Depression is associated with achy bones and muscles so doing whatever you can to avoid depression is essential.

Other ways to manage pain in colder weather include taking long, hot baths each day. Also dress in warm clothing. Some reports show that wearing wool clothing and using wool blankets to sleep in have decreased pain in those with fibromyalgia.

Whether you are dealing with pain flare ups from hot weather or cold weather, there are several techniques you can implement to ease your pain. The most important thing you can do is discuss your pain with your doctor, who will be able to offer you techniques as well as some medicinal methods you may want to try. By listening to your doctor and to your body, you can learn to manage the way temperature affects your pain and your lifestyle.



Comprehensive Pain Management Center