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Can a Change in Weather Make Pain Worse?

Last Updated: November 17th, 2020 at 05:30 pm
Read Time: 4 Minutes

Everyone knows someone who swears their arthritis ‘flares up’ when there’s a storm coming, or their shoulder pain gets worse as winter gets closer. Can their pain flare-ups be true, or is it just an old wives’ tale? Can a change in weather actually make pain worse?

Believe it or not, a change in weather might have something to do with aggravated pain symptoms.

People with chronic pain often avoid talking about how their pain gets worse with rain, out of fear other people might think they’re crazy. However, there might be a strong connection between weather changes and pain that can prove their point.

The Science behind the Connection between Weather & Pain

Some scientists are looking at the connection between weather and pain to help patients living in cold states fight back when frigid weather attacks. In a study looking at people with chronic pain residing in San Diego, Nashville, Worcester, and Boston, almost two-thirds said they could feel changes in their pain symptoms even before the weather changed.

But, the science behind the connection between weather and pain is not just because of rain or cold weather. In fact, it goes beyond that.

How Barometric Pressure Affects Pain

The leading theory behind this connection is all about barometric pressure. Even though people associate their pain symptoms with the rainy or damp weather, barometric pressure, which is the weight of the atmosphere that surrounds us, is the one to blame.

When severe weather is approaching, barometric pressure starts dropping. This phenomenon means there is less air pressure pushing against the body, which allows tissues to expand. When we have expanded tissue, it can place more pressure on joints. Even though the change is microscopic and we can’t see it, our bodies feel the difference, and eventually, we feel the difference in pain symptoms.

Spring Rain

Before a storm, there is low barometric pressure, which means those suffering from arthritis start feeling a change in their symptoms. Again, not everyone feels these symptoms, which is why the link between weather changes and pain remains unsolved. During rainy months, those suffering from chronic pain might experience a newfound uncomfortable pressure in their joints, which could be attributed to the change in barometric pressure.

However, back pain has followed those with symptoms even in dry climates, proving that chronic pain can follow you anywhere.

Summer Heat

Similarly, chronic pain patients also experience a change in symptoms when visiting or moving to humid places. Again, this change can be attributed to low barometric pressure and high humidity. As both increase blood pressure, they cause ligaments, body tendons, and muscles to expand.

Also, a recent study found that per every 10 percent rise in humidity, pain worsened.

Humid and hot climates can cause dehydration, which could decrease the concentration of fluid around the joints, exacerbating joint pain.

Winter Cold

In winter, rising barometric pressure can also be connected to aggravated pain symptoms. A 2007 study looked at the impact of changes in weather with people suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee. The results found that for every 10-degree drop in temperature, patients’ pain increased.

Spinal Conditions Affected by Weather

Many conditions can be affected by weather and the changes in barometric pressure. Most spinal conditions can be aggravated by inflammation, expanded tissues or muscles, and dehydrated joints, which are all affected by changes in weather.

These are some spinal conditions affected by weather:

  • Scoliosis
  • Arthritis
  • Sciatica
  • Joint pain
  • Nerve pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Spinal stenosis

How Can I Combat Changes in Pain When the Weather Changes?

Weather changes are unavoidable. But while we cannot change barometric pressure around us, we can try incorporating healing therapies that promote circulation and help ease symptoms.

Here are some tips and ideas to fight back against pain when the weather starts to change:

  • Stay active to promote circulation
  • Apply a heating pad to the painful area
  • Give water therapy a try by soaking in a hot bath
  • Use over-the-counter heat wraps or a warm towel
  • Incorporate heat therapy into your wellness routine

Can Chiropractic Help?

Your chiropractor can’t change the weather for you. Even though we live in sunny Florida, we’re not immune from the cold front and stormy weather that surprises us now and then. However, chiropractic care can make sure your spine is aligned, and all the connective systems are working harmoniously, which can reduce existing inflammation and encourage healthy tissue.

Preventive Care Benefits

Routine health maintenance and following a comprehensive wellness program is vital for spinal health. As the weather starts changing and the cold months get closer, making sure your spine is in the right condition is essential for a pain-free season.

Preventive care benefits include:

  • Improved nerve communication
  • Improved joint coordination and motion
  • Boosted physical function
  • Improved posture
  • Relieved back and neck pain

A regular wellness plan can also help ease symptoms of scoliosis, arthritis, and other chronic conditions that flare up with weather changes.

Fight Weather-Related Pain at ChiroCare of Florida

Don’t let the weather bring you down. If you or someone you know is experiencing aggravated pain symptoms due to weather conditions, contact us today. With 10 locations around South Florida, one of our caring chiropractors near you is committed to helping you take control of your wellness and helping you find the comfort you seek.

About the Author:
Dr. Sean Driscoll
Born and raised in Olean, NY, Dr. Sean Driscoll relocated to Florida 12 years ago. Dr. Driscoll majored in Athletic Training Sports Medicine at The University of Florida, and received his Doctor of Chiropractic from Palmer College of Chiropractic. He has been treating patients with manual therapy for over 10 years and feels privileged to share the healing benefits of chiropractic with the people of South Florida.
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