There are those that can predict approaching storms, and weather change based on the way, their joints behave.
Similarly, individuals with chronic back pain can at times sense a change in how they feel when the weather shifts.
The connection between weather and back pain is not fully understood but here are a few beliefs on why people feel pain based on the season/weather.
There is not a great deal of research on weather’s effects on spinal conditions. said Dr. Alexander Jimenez, D.C. in El Paso, Texas.
Some spinal conditions have been shown to have a clear link to cold weather. An example is sciatica patients that would experience worsened pain when the weather would shift.
Chiropractor Alexander Jimenez breaks down how weather can affect back pain and explains six ways to help weather-related back pain.
Weather and Osteoarthritis
Dr. Jimenez talks of a study that examined joint pain differences between older people with osteoarthritis that were weather-sensitive versus those who also had osteoarthritis but were not weather-sensitive.
More than two-thirds said weather affected their osteoarthritis pain
Researchers found that weather sensitivity and pain:
- More prevalent among women
- People with anxiety conditions
Weather and season change alters how we feel mentally and emotionally.
That link is definitely true between depression and back pain.
Dr. Jimenez sees the shift in spine health from the hot summer months into the cold ones and that is when the health problems peak.
Winter brings cloudier weather, and that increases melatonin from the brain, which causes drowsiness and less energy.
Sunlight increases serotonin, which causes feelings of happiness.
Cold, dark, winter weather can deplete energy and makes people stay indoors. This is not good because being outside, involved in activity and exercise definitely helps with joint pain.
Staying inside and not moving will worsen pain and possibly lead to severe conditions.
When the seasons begin to change, it also brings to realization the holiday season, which can cause all kinds of:
The holiday season can cause major stress, and the changes in weather are a reminder of that upcoming stress.
A common theory suggests that when the temperature drops it affects the viscosity of the synovial fluid in the joints.
This could be one of the reasons why people with spinal joint pain experience flare-ups during the cold shift.
Dr. Jimenez says that the structures within your:
- Connective tissues
All have different densities and react differently to temperature changes.
In the cold, some connective tissues are looser than others.
So those that are tighter take longer to warm up, and if not then there is a perfect set-up for joint dysfunction.
Another theory is that barometric pressure is what causes the pain. This theory supports people with joint pain that can tell when it’s about to rain.
Some rheumatologists believe the joint capsule and tissues around the joint are like a balloon.
The barometric pressure squeezes this balloon, causing the balloon to expand/inflammation that causes pain.
Moving to Warmer Climate
Factors play into how pain affects the individual and moving to a sunny place is not necessarily the answer.
Dr. Jimenez says that warmer climates have been thought to be healthier for various conditions.
In a sunny climate, one is likely to be in the sun, being active physically/mentally, getting plenty of vitamin D, which is good for bones and joints and makes for a good mood all around.
But moving to a warm climate isn’t always an option, so lifestyle changes can do the trick.
Clinical treatments, like infrared sauna, can bring the sun’s benefits during dark winter days.
People with chronic pain have said they feel pain-free and relaxed after sitting in an infrared sauna.
An infrared sauna does not give off ultraviolet rays, but healthy light.
The light penetrates into the tissues, warms the body, and makes the connective tissue stretchier and looser, which moves easier and doesn’t hurt.
There is no need to move to a sunny climate.
Dr. Jimenez says you can minimize the weather’s effects with these tips:
Dr. Jimenez recommends reducing consumption of inflammation-inducing foods like:
- Red meats
- Fried foods
- Processed starches
Quitting smoking tobacco is essential for finding pain relief.
Alcoholic beverages dehydrate and can worsen depression and anxiety.
Dr. Jimenez says drinking plenty of water is important for the spine, and is often overlooked by the senior community.
Older adults don’t have an active thirst like a young person, and can, therefore, dehydrate rapidly.
Layer clothing or keep the house warm.
Keep a humidifier running with the heater to prevent respiratory problems caused by the dry heat.
Get Into The Sun Regularly
Natural light helps wards off depression, and it improves productivity in the workplace
Physical activity plays a huge part in particularly with low back conditions, walking, which he said engages the postural muscles in the spine.
Dr. Jimenez personally sees the benefits of this: When I’m working out, I don’t feel my hip pain. And I continue because I know that I’m strengthening my body for the better, especially since I help others with their pain.
Hobbies Can Help
A hobby creates a diversion from the pain and releases endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers.
A hobby allows you to focus on something else besides the pain.
Depression and Chronic Pain | El Paso, Tx
Chronic pain caused by injuries and/or aggravated conditions can often be one of the main causes of depression in patients. When painful symptoms cause patients to struggle with their everyday physical activities, their mental health can be tremendously affected. Chiropractic care utilizes spinal adjustments and manual manipulations which can help restore the original integrity of the spine. Patients describe how chiropractic care has helped them recover their quality of life and they highly recommend Dr. Alex Jimenez, chiropractor, as the non-surgical choice for chronic pain and depression, among a variety of other common health issues.
Back pain can be debilitating, causing immobility, inflexibility, and have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. It can make even the most mundane daily activities extremely difficult – and even excruciating. Building the muscles that make up your core (abdominals and back) can help support your spine and reduce back pain. In many cases, strengthening these muscles can assist a patient to avoid medication with its unpleasant side effects and even avoid surgery. With just a few smart moves you can significantly decrease your back pain, increase your mobility, and take back your life.