Weather has an undeniable effect on your daily life, from dictating your choice of outdoor activities to influencing your mood. And if you’ve ever wondered if the weather affects your health, you’re not alone.
The weather can have a real impact on how your body feels — especially if you’re living with a chronic pain condition like arthritis — and the arrival of fall and winter can signal worsening pain. A change in the weather can cause muscles, ligaments, and tendons to tighten, leading to pain throughout the body. Fortunately, proactive pain management can help.
Eric Fanaee, MD, and our team are here to help you understand how weather can affect your health and explain what you can do about it.
Temperature and chronic pain
Temperature fluctuations, especially cold weather, can intensify chronic pain. In fact, many people with arthritis report increased stiffness and discomfort during colder months.
This phenomenon is primarily due to changes in the viscosity of your joint fluid. Colder temperatures can thicken the synovial fluid that lubricates your joints, making movement more difficult and painful.
To see how today’s weather might affect your joint pain, check out the Arthritis Foundation weather index.
Remedies to try for cold-related pain
There are a few ways to help reduce chronic pain that worsens with cold weather. Dr. Fanaee may recommend applying heat to your affected joints; hot water bottles, heating pads, warm baths, or even warm compresses can deliver pain relieving benefits.
Consider moving your exercise routine indoors for winter. Engaging in indoor, low-impact exercises like swimming or yoga can keep joints flexible and reduce pain during colder months.
If you’re planning to go outdoors, layer up. Dressing warmly in cold weather helps maintain your joint temperature and reduces stiffness.
Barometric pressure and chronic pain
Barometric pressure is the weight of the atmosphere pressing down on Earth, and it can also affect your health. The pressure often drops before rain and storms, and that drop can cause increased discomfort for people with chronic pain conditions like migraines, fibromyalgia, and arthritis.
While the exact connections between barometric pressure and chronic pain still aren’t well understood, some experts believe these changes in pressure can affect joint inflammation and nerve sensitivity.
Remedies to try for barometric pressure-related pain
Unfortunately, it’s not easy to manage pain related to changes in barometric pressure. Staying well-hydrated and maintaining a balanced diet can help reduce your susceptibility to weather-related pain. Dr. Fanaee may also recommend medications or pain treatments that can help during pressure changes.
Along with medical care, practices like deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation help many patients alleviate pain and stress associated with barometric pressure changes.
Humidity and chronic pain
Humidity levels can affect your perception of chronic pain. High humidity may contribute to swelling and inflammation, particularly in colder conditions. But at the same time, very low humidity can contribute to dehydration and worsening pain.
Remedies to try for humidity-related pain
The key to managing humidity-related pain is controlling your environment as much as possible. Consider installing a humidifier or dehumidifier in your home to manage indoor humidity levels and make you more comfortable.
Remember to stay hydrated in all seasons. Maintaining proper hydration levels is essential to counter the effects of high humidity. Drinking plenty of water helps regulate your body temperature and alleviate discomfort.
Weather's influence on your health and chronic pain is a fascinating and complex subject. While you can't control the weather, you can take proactive steps to manage its effects on your well-being.
Get expert advice and a personalized pain management plan from Dr. Fanaee. We have offices in Bethpage, Smithtown, and West Islip, New York, and you can call 631-265-2020 or book your first appointment online today.