Is Weather Sensitive Pain Real?
We have all heard others tell us that cold, chilly or rainy weather makes them hurt more, causing headaches, or making them feel tired and groggy. While many people have questioned if the weather really does affect pain, no one can deny that that the older you are, or the more injuries you have had, the more common the complaints are. And let’s face it, this “wives’ tale” has been around for centuries and is still alive and well – there must be something to it. Maybe we have just never understood it. Recently, however, the medical community has come on board with this supposed “myth,” and now has the technology required to prove that for many, weather sensitive pain is real.
What Causes the Pain?
The interesting part about weather-sensitive pain is that we should not be pointing fingers at what the weather is right now, but rather we need to look at barometric pressure (the pressure that is exerted by the weight of air within the Earth’s atmosphere). A dropping barometer level is often the culprit for the onset of pain, although there are a few cases where the opposite can be true. In addition, the effect of a changing barometer tends to be more pronounced when temperature is at an extreme, especially when it is cold. So just looking outside is not really a good way to determine if the weather affects you. It may look like a beautiful day outside with the sun shining, but when a cold or rain front is on the way, those with weather-sensitive pain are likely to complain. And if it’s raining outside, so the front is already here, or if a warm front is about to move in, then those afflicted may also say that they feel better. Because of their hypersensitivity to shifting fronts, those with weather sensitive pain are often the best and most reliable weathermen around.
To get to the root cause of the pain, we want to look at the Sympathetic Nervous System. This part of your nervous system regulates automatic bodily functions – such as dilating pupils, heart rate, breathing and even the sweating and swelling of your fingers when the weather gets too hot or cold. The sympathetic nervous system is like a governor on your car engine. Independent of the rest of your nervous system it is supposed to both monitor and regulate bodily functions. Not only does it do this for internal organs, it also does this go for soft tissues such as muscle, tendon, ligament, disc and the spine. If a body part is injured and the sympathetic system overreacts, then that injury can become weather sensitive and changing fronts may cause pain.
Other Related Conditions
The severity of the condition varies from person to person, but when it becomes excruciatingly severe a medical diagnosis of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CFRPS) might be given. In others, where the problem is moderate in nature, conditions such as chronic headaches, thoracic outlet syndrome, Raynauds or Fibromyalgia might be diagnosed. Sometimes arthritis can be weather sensitive too. Regardless of the underlying injury site, an increased sympathetic system response is the reason for the pain – for weather sensitive pain.
Those with these conditions and problems might turn to pain medication for help, but they often do not work. In fact, we have found that special treatments that increase blood flow are often much more effective. Think about a heart attack victim. Although pain medication might sound like a good idea for chest pain, you most definitely want to try other means to improve blood flow. Certain kinds of injections, nerve blocks, regenerative medicine techniques, and physical therapy can also provide significant relief or even reverse the condition.
A few types of home remedies include stretching, bathing with Epsom salts or generally trying to keep warm (many have found an electric blanket at night helps). In fact, there are so many options available today to help with sympathetic pain that no one should have to “learn to live with it” without giving some of them a try.
If you are suffering from RSD, Fibromyalgia or with weather sensitive pain, please contact us here or call us at 864-235-1834 to see how we can provide pain relief.