Does the weather really amplify our pain?
Have you ever heard someone say that they can feel a storm coming, or that they know the weather is going to change dramatically sometime soon? Has this same person said so because they can feel it in their joints and bones? We hear so many stories in the clinic of those who can predict weather changes due to the levels of pain or stiffness that they feel. It is estimated that between 62%-97% of people with muscle and joint conditions report that the weather has some impact on their pain. But how truthful are these accusations?
Studies have shown that barometric pressure is likely to be accountable for these claims. Barometric pressure is defined as the weight of the air. This weight is generally heavier in winter as the air is more dense. Though, rather than the weight of the air itself, it has been shown that a quick change in weight from light to heavy, is the likely cause of these pains.
Other research has proposed that a high humidity or wet weather, combined with a cold temperate is likely to have a higher effect on pain than a high humidity, hot temperature and dry weather. In saying this, a shift in these levels could make aches and pains seem momentarily worse.
But where is the physical reasoning?
Changes in barometric pressure have been shown to cause tendons, muscles, bones and scar tissue to expand and contract. These actions are likely to cause pain, stiffness and inflammation, all of which are related to conditions such as arthritis. Other theories suggest that the density of cooler temperatures can increase the thickness of synovial fluid which is found in the joints. This is known to cause greater stiffness and pain. These increases in pain have been proven to be more prominent in elderly patients.
Despite this evidence, there are other theories to suggest why pain may increase with a change of weather. This includes the tendency to be less active when the weather is colder. As physical activity is proven to reduce pain, this suggests that pain thresholds are reduced in periods of rest
Here at Bankstown Physiotherapy we take physical pain seriously and aim to treat all patients with the best methods possible. If you or anyone you know is experiencing pain, simply contact us at 97933119, visit our website or book online.