How Weather Affects Pain

Almost everybody has heard one of their relatives complain about how painful their joints become when the weather changes, especially when it gets cold or rainy. But is there any validity to this claim? And what about people who live live in consistently cold, rainy or damp climates? Do they have the same complaints about body aches and pains? The short answer is both yes and no. There is some truth to this, but it might not be what you think.

Achy joints, arthritis flare ups and intense migraines are just some of the ways people can predict the weather coming. And while it may seem far-fetched, there is something going on there. Scientists have studied this, but even they can’t agree. There are however, several theories why weather affects pain. The most common theory is air pressure, or barometric pressure, is what is actually affecting pain levels.

Barometric pressure is the weight of the atmosphere that surrounds us. Just before a storm hits, barometric pressure drops. The lower air pressure allows the tissues to expand and this can lead to added pressure on the joints. This may increase pain in those areas.

Another theory is more psychological. It is well documented weather can affect a person’s mood. When a person feels gloomy or depressed, their perception of pain can be increased. This happens frequently in areas where winters are long and cold. It even has a name: Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.

One thing for certain is our bodies adjust to our environments. A recent study looked at people in four cities: Nashville, San Diego and two cities in Massachusetts. The study concluded people experience changes in their pain when the weather changed no matter where they lived. Pain worsened when the barometric pressure fell, which occurs right before a storm or drastic weather changes. And since our bodies adjust to our environment, it is safe to say no matter where a person lives, their pain will go with them. They may not notice it as much at first after moving to a new climate, but eventually it will come back.

The weather affects our bodies in other ways too. High levels of humidity can thicken the blood over time. This can increase the pressure in the blood vessels and the heart.  This causes the heart to work harder to pump the blood throughout the body and may ultimately lead to a stroke or a heart attack. Those living in high humidity climates also have to worry about excessive sweating that can lead to dehydration. When the body is dehydrated, the joints ache more. This is why drinking water is so important, not just in high humidity areas, but everywhere.

Regardless of the cause, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can be very helpful in the treatment of aches and pains. No matter where you live, Traditional Chinese Medicine can help.

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