Weather Changes and Pain

I have spoken with many of my patients regarding season changes, weather and pain (even as I write this sentence, I feel like I should be saying “lions and tigers and bears, oh my!)

We will be warm the rest of this week and then next week we will drop into “normal” Fall-like weather. Highs of 60’s and Lows of 30’s-40’s. This weekend heading into the cooler temps we will have showers.  So, what does this mean?  It means hold on… we may be in for a weather ride!

Let’s talk a little about weather and joints and muscles.

Barometric Pressure

Barometric Pressure is also known as air pressure. Fluctuation in barometric pressure is the culprit for joint, tendon and cartilage pain.

One theory suggests that the fluctuations cause “expansion and contraction” of joints, tendons, and cartilage. Remember, tendons are attached to muscles!

You will hear me encourage you to track the weather and pay attention to barometric pressure/air pressure. Advance knowledge of changes in pressure can help you prepare for discomfort, swelling, stiffness, etc.

Temperature changes

There is not necessarily one explanation, but the thought it’s that nature changes-especially shifts to cold temperatures-change how thick the joint fluid is. The theory states that the cooler the temperature changes (especially sudden changes) cause the fluid to “thicken” and thus makes movement more stiff. Stiffness can equal pain.

Moisture

Moisture (you can think humidity here too): the theory here is that increased moisture/humidity causes expansion of tissues. Increased expansion=increased inflammation=increased pain.

What You Can Do

UGH!  Well first let me tell you all three of these changes I experience. If you have been in the practice long enough, you know I have had multiple surgeries and I have arthritis in various joints. On top of that, I have Multiple Sclerosis, an auto-immune disease. (No worries, I am doing great – knock on wood).

Having said all that, KNOWLEDGE IS POWER! Tracking the weather can give you a “heads up” of what is to come. You can mentally prepare and also physically prepare for changes. This may include increased exercise, stretching, and/or set home exercises I have you doing. You can use breath work, medication and gentle simple yoga.  

Management of pain in times like these may also include using non-steroidal anti-inflammatories–such as over-the-counter Advil or Aleve if you can take this class of medicine or taking what I may have prescribed you (ex: meloxicam or diclofenac). Also, Tylenol is an option, as well, if you are not on medication that has Tylenol (acetaminophen) in it.

Consider topical ointments or creams: This could be something like Icy Hot. Many of you know I am a huge fan of Vicks Vapor Rub for joints and muscles (watch your eyes!). Some people find benefit with CBD topical creams. 

Now, when the weather hits full on, give yourself permission to slow it down, but DO NOT STOP. Do some sort of activity daily.

Please be wise to the upcoming days and start preparing for the true Fall shift (I think…)

I hope this is helpful!  As always, don’t hesitate to reach out if you need something!

Lisa Wheeler, PA-C

1 thought on “Weather Changes and Pain”

  1. As always, I love what you share. Very practical and sensible.. I think because you’ve experienced some of the symptoms we experience it helps with your empathy for us. Keep leading and I will follow.

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