Some people living with chronic pain are firm believers in the long-held assertion that a drop in temperature means aches and pains will get worse. Others dismiss such claims as nothing more than an old wives’ tale. Though there is little scientific evidence to positively confirm a connection between cold weather and persistent pain, there may be weather-related factors that play a role in how chronic pain is experienced. Santa Monica spine surgeons from The Spine Institute discuss some of these factors.
The strongest connection between cold weather and chronic pain is with joint pain caused by arthritis. Nearly 70 percent of individuals with osteoarthritis who were surveyed as part of a European study claimed weather affected their pain. People with arthritis who were surveyed for a smaller study reported a greater sensitivity to cold than respondents without the condition. This backs up previous research suggesting chronic pain increases nerve sensitivity.
A change in the perceived weight of the atmosphere (barometric pressure) may be the reason why some people report increased pain when it gets colder. Soft tissues surrounding joints are normally stabilized by higher barometric pressure. However, when colder weather causes pressure to drop, tissues expand like a balloon and place added weight on joints.
Heat therapy can be an effective home remedy for chronic pain, especially when the culprit is cooler temperatures. Heat can be applied in the form of a heat pack, a warm towel wrapped around the affected area, or a heating pad for about 15 to 20 minutes. Soaking in a warm bath may also help.
You can’t prevent chilly days, but you can make an effort to better manage your chronic pain. For instance, exercises to strengthen muscles supporting the spine and its joints may make flare-ups less disruptive. The same is true with adjustments to the foods you eat. Anti-inflammatory foods such as berries, almonds, and green, leafy vegetables may naturally ease discomfort.
At The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration, we specialize in a wide variety of procedures that can help people eliminate their back pain, including spinal fusion and decompression procedures like laminectomy back surgery. Santa Monica residents trust in Dr. Hyun Bae and his team of expert surgeons to diagnose the source of their pain and find the most effective method for treating the pain. Call 310-828-7757 today to schedule an in-person evaluation.