Joint Pain Worse in Warm Weather
Can you feel the weather in your bones?
Well, it is not an old wives tale…you really can & now science will back you up.
For years, people with chronic pain have reported that certain types of weather – such as heat or humidity make their pain worse. Many people find their joint pain worse in warm weather.
Science has now confirmed that people pain are sensitive to the atmospheric pressure – so you really can feel the coming storm in your bones!
Another scientific study proved people living with chronic pain are sensitive to the weather. The study found the following:
- 87% reported temperature effected pain
- 77% humidity
- 82% joint ache
- 79% muscle ache
The results of the study will probably not surprise you if you are living with pain.
Hot Weather Can Increase Pain
High heat & humidity increase pain levels for people with conditions ranging from arthritis, asthma, fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis & chronic fatigue.
One theory is that heat & humidity can cause increased inflammation & pain because there are changes to the levels of fluid that lubricate your joints – which is why you may find joint pain worse in warm weather.
Yet the summer months & the soaring temperatures can cause more problems than just increased pain…
People with chronic pain struggle to regulate their system with extreme weather changes like a heat wave or humidity.
The knock on effects of struggling to regulate your body temperature can be serious – you may end up with heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Heat exhaustion or heat stroke – what’s the difference?
Heat exhaustion occurs when there is a loss of bodily fluid – so when you are very dehydrated. Symptoms include:
- Feeling anxious or lightheaded
- Skin pale & clammy
- Weak pulse
- Low blood pressure
Heat stroke happens when the body’s normal method of losing heat (like sweating) shuts down or can’t cope with the extreme conditions. The onset of symptoms can be sudden & includes the following:
- Skin dry & flushed
- Pulse fast & hard
- Breathing problems
- Loss of consciousness
Heat stroke is serious & can result in brain damage or even death
Chronic Pain Medication Can Contribute to Heat-Related Illness
Many medications (including the ones regularly prescribed to people with chronic pain) make things much worse.
Some medications hamper the body’s ability to regulate temperature. Talk to your doctor at the beginning of summer or at the very least a heat wave is predicted about your medication & heat-related side effects.
Living with chronic pain is challenging at the best of times. Throwing heat & humidity can really make life hard
So…to help you beat the heat with chronic pain…
We have listed 5 simple steps to keep you cool, calm & collected this summer….
It might sound obvious but when the thermometer is soaring it is not always so easy. Try the following:
Stay out of the sun
Wear loose-fitting, light clothes made of natural fibres (like linen or cotton)
Wear a hat that breathes, not one that holds heat in.
Avoid being outside between 11am – 5pm
Take cool showers & baths
Put cool packs or wet towels on ‘pulse points’ like forehead, wrists & feet
A wet and cold kerchief around your neck cools blood as it is pumped to your brain.
Mint refreshes & has a nice cooling sensation – try adding chopped mint to ice water for a cooling mist spray
Even if you don’t feel thirsty it is essential to keep drinking.
Water not alcohol, caffeine or sugary drinks. Some medications may disguise the fact you are feeling thirsty.
So regularly check the colour of your urine. It should be a light golden colour – anything darker you should drink water immediately. Check out the urine colour chart if in doubt.
Keep the house cool
Again sounds obvious but it is not always as simple as it sounds.
Try to keep your house cool by closing the curtains to block out the sun; use air-conditioners or fans & avoid using the stove.
If all else fails & your house is like an oven – go to a cool public space like a library or shopping centre – make sure you take water for the journey.
For 15 practical tips on keeping the house cool without air-conditioning read the following article has some great suggestions.
Have a plan
Keep an eye on the weather forecast & prepare for the heat.
Fill empty bottles & jars with tap water to stock the fridge – a cool drink of water can be a real saviour in the heat. But not too cold, our bodies absorb cool water better than icy water.
Make a plan with friends/family that you can call on if you really need help. Similarly, take the details of people you could help if they come into difficulty during a heat wave or storm.
Finally, talk to your doctor about any medication you are taking & heat-related side effects.
Give yourself time to recover
Coping with extreme weather can be very tiring. Make sure you keep drinking fluids so your body can get back in balance.
As is so often the case, science has proved what we all know instinctually. People are sensitive to changes in atmosphere & the corresponding weather changes that it brings. Extremes of heat & humidity can cause increased pain & discomfort for people living with chronic pain – so many people find joint pain worse in warm weather.
As well as increased pain – people with chronic pain are at higher risk of having serious heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
The summer can be a time of great joy – take simple steps to minimise the nasty effects of heat & humidity & get the most out of the sunny season.
If you live on the other-side of the planet & you are battling germs this time of year you might like to check out our tips to boost your immune system.