The Link Between Temperature And Pain Is Widely Reported
There are a number of pain disorders reportedly influenced by temperature, and while experts cannot always explain the “why” behind this influence, the fact that it’s so commonly noted cannot be ignored.
With that, you may be surprised to learn that while many people associate bad weather with “bad pain,” a hot, sticky summer day can aggravate a pain disorder, as well. In fact, for some people, heat is actually worse than cold for their pain.
Managing Your Arthritis In Warmer Weather
Weve been lucky to enjoy some warm days recently and while most of us love a bit of sunshine, the warmer weather can affect some people with arthritis.
People with arthritis often say that they can predict the weather based on how their joints feel. Some notice their pain and stiffness flares up in the cold and wet winter months, while others find hot and humid summer weather can make symptoms worse.
Dr Alastair Dickson, GP and health economist with an interest in rheumatology and arthritis, and trustee of the Primary Care Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Medicine Society, says that some people are more sensitive to the weather than others.
It is unknown why weather affects arthritis pain, he says. One theory is that people are less active in cold, damp weather and keeping active is known to help relieve arthritis pain.
An alternative theory is that changes in barometric pressure affect the pain you feel. Temperature sensitivity is a common symptom of fibromyalgia, and extremes in temperature, whether it be hot or cold, can trigger flare-ups.
Is It Really The Temperature Or Is It Your Mood
Some experts believe that hot or cold weather can influence a person’s mood, and then this can influence how that person perceives paina reasonable argument.
On the contrary, though, in the above study on osteoarthritis, even after controlling for factors like anxiety and depression, people who described themselves as weather-sensitive still experienced more joint pain than people who were not weather-sensitive. This hints that mood problems do not fully explain the link between joint pain and weather sensitivity.
Still, it makes sense that a temperature change can impact a person’s emotional health, which can then impact how they perceive or interpret pain.
The big picture here is that it seems too commonly reported to dismiss a temperature change’s influence on pain. So, while your worsening pain is real and not in your head, your emotional well-being likely plays a role, albeit it may be small.
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Do You Suffer From Arthritis Or Other Chronic Pain Conditions
At Riverside Pain Physicians, we are committed to helping our patients live a more pain-free quality of life, regardless of whats causing your symptoms. Our skilled physicians are highly experienced in treating pain that results from all types of medical conditions.
We are dedicated to relieving your discomfort with compassionate, individualized care and state-of-the-art technologies for pain relief.
If you suffer from chronic pain, let us help to ease your suffering reach out to us today at 904.389.1010, or to schedule an appointment online.
The Effects Of Humidity And Barometric Pressure
One two-year study looked at the effect of the weather on 222 patients with hip osteoarthritis. Researchers found that higher humidity levels were associated with more pain and that higher barometric pressures were associated with worse function. The severity of the osteoarthritis, however, was not affected.1
Another study, this time on 810 patients with osteoarthritis of the hips and knees, also found that there was a significant association between daily average humidity and temperature and changes in joint pain. The effect of humidity was found to be more pronounced during periods of colder weather.2
In contrast, studies looking at osteoarthritis of the spine did not find such a link. For example, a large Australian study with 1,604 patients showed no effect of the weather on the severity of back pain experienced by these patients.3
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Why Does Cold Rain Make You Hurt
Scientists dont know for sure why changes in weather can make some people hurt, or why it affects some people more than others. But they do have a few theories.
Dr. Starz believes at least some of the increased pain comes from decreased activity. We know that physical activity relieves arthritis pain. And when the weather is unpleasant, people tend to hole up inside. That inactivity can lead to more pain.
Other scientists offer physical reasons behind the pain. Changes in barometric pressure can cause expansion and contraction of tendons, muscles, bones and scar tissues, resulting in pain in the tissues that are affected by arthritis. Low temperatures may also increase the thickness of joint fluids, making them stiffer and perhaps more sensitive to pain during movement.
Dr. Starz agrees, The mind-body connection is strong. If warm sunny weather makes you feel better psychologically, youll probably feel better physically as well.
Does Changing Weather Really Affect Arthritis And Joint Pain
You may have known someone with arthritis who claimed to be able to predict the weather by the pain they feel in their joints. If you were skeptical about their claim, you may be surprised to know that scientists have found overwhelming evidence indicating that there really is a strong link between certain weather conditions and the pain arthritis sufferers feel.Here are some of the more notable findings from multiple studies on the topic:
If you suffer from arthritis and experience intensified pain symptoms during cold, rainy or fluctuating weather conditions, consult with your pain management physician to learn ways to effectively manage your discomfort. A qualified pain specialist can recommend effective methods for relief according to your individual situation and the nature of your condition.Here are a few of the alternative methods your pain doctor may recommend to help ease your pain:
- Increased activity levels
- Limited sugar intake
- Prescription pain medication
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Help Reduce The Effects Of Humidity
Firstly, drink lots of water! Its important to keep your body hydrated. Secondly, movement is important for back pain and joint pain. We dont want joints, muscles and ligaments to become stiff because this will increase your pain.
Regular visits to your local Osteopath and remedial massage therapist can assist. Osteopathy and deep tissue massage will help to keep muscles, ligaments and joints supple and able to move. Our Osteopath, Shane Caulfield also advises our patients with tailored exercise and maintenance plans to help our acute and chronic pain sufferers.
In hot humid conditions, why not take advantage of swimming? It can be a great form of therapy for joint pain and back pain. Besides getting some relief from the heat it is low impact and a great way to keep moving.
Healthy Ways To Cope With Humidity Your Joints And Muscles Will Thank You
Now that the first day of summer has passed, we are getting into some of the hottest days of the year. Here in Florida and along all of the Gulf coast and the Caribbean, humidity often comes along with that heat, a fact that residents of these regions are all too familiar with. While humidity in itself can be bothersome, it can be even worse for those with back pain and arthritis.
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Cost Of Living Overall
Cost of living is a consideration, especially if you are living on a fixed income. Some of the best places to live with arthritis in the United States also happen to be some of the most affordable.
Pro-tip: While some of the cheapest places to live may not be great for those with osteoarthritis, two of the best states Arizona and New Mexico are affordable options with other perks .
What Does Past Research Say About Weather And Arthritis Pain
The question of whether theres a link between weather and aches and pains has been studied extensively. While a definitive answer is nearly impossible to provide because its hard to prove a negative researchers have been unable to make a strong case for a strong connection.
For example, a 2014 study in Australia found no link between back pain and rain, temperature, humidity, or air pressure. This study collected data regarding features of the weather at the time of first symptoms, and compared it to the weather a week and a month before. But, an earlier study found that among 200 patients followed for three months, knee pain increased modestly when temperature fell or barometric pressure rose.
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Cloudy With A Chance Of Pain
The quest to define the link between arthritis and the weather continues, with researchers adopting more novel approaches that embrace modern technology.
The first smartphone-based study to investigate the relationship between weather and chronic pain, otherwise known as Cloudy with a chance of pain, ran between January 2016 and April 2017. During this time it collected 5 million pieces of data on symptoms, however the findings are yet to be reported.6
One smartphone-based study that has released findings looked at the location-based weather parameters of 1,334 participants in the US. Any significant links between pain symptoms and the weather were very weak in this study.7
How To Relieve Pain Caused By Arthritis
There are a few measures one can take to reduce joint stiffness and pain in the cold season when suffering from arthritis.
1. Dress Warmer
Covering your joints properly to provide insulation during the cold season can go a long way in relieving the pain. Scarves, socks, jackets and warm winter clothes can also be work. This ensures that body heat is not lost and that the joints do not stiffness from the cold. Also, wearing clothes that are right can help to bring down the inflammation. There are therapy gloves available in the market for specifically helping people suffering from arthritis.
2. Stay Active
For everyone, exercise and keeping active is important for their wellbeing. It is even more important for people with arthritis. A little light exercise can go a long way in ensuring that stiffness doesnt occur. Yoga, stretching and walking are considered to be enough exercises for people with arthritis.
Regular massages on affected joints are also recommended as they get the blood flowing and this keeps the joints warm.
3. Eating Nutritious Meals
Eating foods that offer the body the required nutrients also plays a major role when it comes to relieving symptoms of arthritis. Calcium and vitamin D are the essential nutrients required by people suffering from arthritis. Calcium helps to regenerate the bones while vitamin D absorbs the calcium.
4. Adapt Better Lifestyle Habits
5. See a Doctor
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Does Research Matter When You Have Personal Experience
Thats a fair question. And its something Ive even heard in TV commercials about headache medicines: I dont care about the research. I just know what works for me. But its worth remembering that humans have a remarkable tendency to remember when two things occur or change together , but remember less when things do not occur together. That rainy day when you felt no better or worse is unlikely to be so notable that you remember it. If you rely solely on memory rather than on more rigorous, data-based evidence, its easy to conclude a link exists where, in fact, none does.
More About Living With Arthritis
Some of the worst states to live in for arthritis are those with poor access to healthcare, high humidity, and dramatic seasonal changes.
If your daily struggles with arthritis do find you moving to beautiful sunny Phoenix, get in touch with Arizona Pain. Our team is committed to helping people learn more about living with arthritis. Keep up with the latest tips for living with arthritis and other chronic pain conditions on our pain management blog.
The Grand Canyon state is one of the best places to live with arthritis, and wed love to help you manage your pain! Get in touch with our team to learn more about our approach.
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Do Light Exercise To Help With Stiffness
Weight-bearing exercise is particularly important for people with RA, and much more so in the fall and winter as it keeps your joints and muscles moving. Exercise is also an important aspect to keep you from developing osteoarthritis, but even more so, it can help prevent the dreaded morning stiffness.
Of course, this doesnt mean you need to become a triathlete overnight, but it does mean you should start incorporating an exercise routine into your schedule. If youre out of shape, try making small goals at first like walking the dog around the block every day or taking a short walk down the road for some fresh air.
You can also start off with some swimming , or taking a gentle yoga class. A full-on workout routine isnt necessary, as long as youre getting in some cardio every day and making sure youre doing weight-bearing exercises.
However, it is important to note that exercising during a flare is not helpful. You should always get your doctors go-ahead before you start a new exercise routine.
But, exercising when youre not in a flare can help prevent flares in the future, so it isnt a great idea to go too long without establishing one. If you find that exercise is painful, take a pain pill 30 minutes to an hour before you start your exercise routine. This should help cut down on pain significantly.
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What Makes Arthritis Flare Up
When youre suffering from a painful condition like arthritis, youre almost always looking for ways to keep your symptoms at bay.
Weve all heard the old wives tale that when an achey joint is acting up its a sign that bad weather is on the waybut can it really be true that something like a change in weather can trigger your pain?
Its true the symptoms of arthritis can recede and flare up. Its also true that a change in weather can sometimes trigger a flare-up, which is often magnified when a certain type of arthritis is not being well-managed, says Dr. Syed Alam, rheumatologist at Houston Methodist.
While you cant control the weather, the good news is that you can avoid other triggers of arthritic flare-ups as long as you know what type of arthritis you have in the first place, adds Dr. Alam.
Arthritis is a broad term for pain, tenderness or swelling in a particular joint , and the three most common types of arthritis are:
- Rheumatoid arthritis when your immune system attacks the structure of your joint
- Osteoarthritis wear and tear damage that breaks down the cushion in your joint
- Gout when sharp crystals form and deposit in a joint
When it comes to flare-ups of these types of arthritis, the triggers themselves arent actually the source of your pain. Theyre just things that aggravate the underlying issues of the arthritis, explains Dr. Alam.
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What Kind Of Weather
Several studies have tried to pinpoint the kind of weather changes that affect joint pain, but the findings are all over the map.
In one survey of 200 people with osteoarthritis in their knee, researchers found that every 10-degree drop in temperature — as well as low barometric pressure –corresponded to a rise in arthritis pain. More recently, however, a Dutch study of 222 people with osteoarthritis of the hip found that over 2 years, people said their pain and stiffness got worse with rising barometric pressure and humidity.
Another group of researchers took a look at medical records of more than 11 million Medicare visits and matched dates to local weather reports. They didnât see any link between weather changes and joint pain at all. Two recent Australian studies — one on knee pain and one on lower back pain — also found no connection to weather change.
But even though the science isnât clear, flare-ups when the weather turns are very real for many people with joint pain. Some peopleâs bodies may just be more sensitive to changes in the weather. Many people say they find relief in warmer climates, but again, thereâs no scientific proof that it will ease your aches.
The Link Between Weather And Joint Pain
It isnt entirely clear why weather affects people with arthritis, but the link between weather and arthritic pain has been extensively studied. People with arthritis may experience pain in places where temperature changes are more extreme and in damp climates. They also experience pain in response to climate factors like humidity, air pressure, and wind speed. Temperature and barometric pressure have also been noted as contributing factors to joint pain. Understanding how different weather patterns affect pain can help people with arthritis find the best climate for them.
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Looking For More Information On Keeping Warm
Our blogs are educational in nature and are not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Because your condition is unique to you, it is recommended that you consult with your health care provider before attempting any medical or therapeutic treatments. We are always happy to answer questions about products mentioned in our blogs, however, we cannot provide a diagnosis or medical advice.
How Does Humidity Affect The Body
You may be pleased to hear that its not just your imagination if you suffer increased joint pain or back pain on humid days and nights. It might actually surprise you to learn just how much the weather can affect our bodies.
We often see weather-related joint pain reported by patients with arthritic conditions and joint pain here at Central Coast Osteopath. You see, joints contain sensory nerves called baroreceptors which respond to changes in atmospheric pressure. These receptors are very sensitive to low barometric pressure, which is when the atmosphere has gone from dry to moist .
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