Climate and Pain

Climate and Pain

For years, physicians, scientists and patients have pondered the connection between climate and pain. Many arthritic individuals have said changes in temperature or barometric pressure can increase pain and swelling in joints. As a result, many patients suffering from arthritis have argued they can predict when it’s going to rain, snow, sleet, etc.

Although this long-standing theory has been considered for the most part, true, the team at American Spine is taking a look at this same concept and applying it to those living with fibromyalgia pain. So, can climate or changes in weather affect chronic pain?

This question has yet to be answered for a number of reasons. One, physicians do not know what causes fibromyalgia, so it’s hard to answer indefinitely what affects it. Two, there a number of weather factors to consider, i.e. temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, precipitation, wind, etc., so there may not be one answer to this question. Three, studies have been conducted on this phenomenon but many have produced mixed results. Therefore, the answer to this question could be: weather may or may not affect chronic pain.

We know that’s probably not what you wanted to hear, but given the research on climate and arthritis pain, we can assume weather has the ability to affect chronic pain similarly. For arthritis patients, joints and tissues can become inflamed when there is a decrease in barometric pressure because there is less atmospheric pressure to keep them in a normal range. For chronic pain, there are theories that a drop in barometric pressure can trigger muscle aches and pain.

If the temperature decreases suddenly, arthritis patients may experience pain because cold weather shrinks tissues, pulls on nerves and causes pain. Studies have found fibromyalgia patients may experience similar anomalies. Cold weather usually causes pain in fibromyalgia sufferers because the muscles begin to tighten and shrink, causing muscle pain. Warm weather has been known to keep muscles loose and limber, which is why may chronic pain patients experience less discomfort in warmer climates.

Lastly, climate and temperature changes may cause changes in your sleep cycle, circadian rhythm and pro-inflammatory cytokines, which all affect pain. If you find you’re being affected by weather changes, try to avoid cold temperatures, bundle up and consider buying a light box if you live in a gray, cold climate. Don’t let pain negatively affect your life—call the team at American Spine today to discuss possible treatment options!

At American Spine, we are dedicated to treating chronic pain and spine conditions. Offering the latest in minimally invasive spine surgery and other effective treatment options, American Spine is the leading pain physician group of California. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call us at (951)-734-PAIN (7246).

The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.

©PainMedGroup, 2015

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