Pain and Weather

The first day of fall happened this week. Here in Georgia it is so hot and humid that when you walk out the door it takes your breath away. I have always been a heat lover until this summer when for some reason I started getting nausea when I got hot. I have been somewhat of a hermit this summer because of that fact.

Weather related pain is a phenomenon that occurs when people feel pain correlating to the changes in barometric pressure and other weather phenomena. A study from Tufts University in 2007 found that every 10 degree drop in temperature corresponded with an incremental increase in arthritis pain. Low barometric pressure, low temperatures and precipitation can increase pain. Have you found this to be true for you? I sure have.

For several years now winter has been a major ordeal for me. The cold makes my pain so much worse. I get stiff and the cold seems to penetrate all the way to my bones.

As we say goodbye to summer and look ahead to autumn, here are some tips to help those who feel their chronic pain gets worse with colder weather.

If the cold makes your pain worse, try incorporating heat therapy into your daily routine. Heat therapy decreases stiffness and promotes healing through increased circulation. Try a hot pack, heating pad or over the counter heat wrap. My heated blanket and heating pad are my best friends in winter months.

Another option I incorporate is a warm bath before bed each night. If pain is high I will add some epsom salts which have magnesium, an ingredient that is supposed to help with pain.

Although it is tempting to to hibernate during cold weather, inactivity can increase some types of pain. Do your best to do some type of gentle exercise whether it is walking, stretching or something else you prefer. I know…it hurts to move. But believe me, it hurts more to NOT move. You don’t have to do much…just do something to increase your blood flow and prevent stiffness which can aggravate your pain.

Dress in layers, warm up your car, and keep your home heated to ease weather related pain. Try keeping painful joints warm with a neoprene sleeve or wrap. Warm beverages can keep your body warm so fill up a mug of hot chocolate or hot tea (watch the caffeine). Spicy foods raise the temperature making you feel warmer and also help alleviate pain.

Try supplemental vitamin D. A vitamin D deficiency makes pain worse. In winter it is difficult to have the natural vitamin D that bones and joints require in large amounts, The intake of the supplements and the vitamin rich foods will help lessen your pain.

I incorporate all of these suggestions as my normal winter strategies. Im looking forward to a beautiful fall and hope these tips help you as we deal with increased pain due to colder weather.

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