How Cold Weather Affects Chronic Pain

How Cold Weather Affects Chronic Pain

Sometimes, people who experience chronic joint pain can “predict” weather changes based on how their joints feel. Many people have reported that as the temperature drops, conditions like back pain, neck pain, arthritis, and fibromyalgia are exacerbated.

Chronic pain and barometric pressure

Though researchers have yet to unanimously agree that weather worsens pain, there are theories as to why this may occur. One popular theory addresses air pressure changes, which occur when the temperatures drop. Though many people say that their pain worsens with cold, rainy weather, research shows that it’s not because of the low temperatures, rain, or snow. It’s actually the barometric pressure.

What is barometric pressure?

Barometric pressure is the weight of the atmosphere that surrounds us. The tissues surrounding the joints are similar to a balloon. As barometric pressure rises, it pushes against the body and keeps the tissues from expanding.

Barometric pressure will often drop prior to when the cold weather actually hits. As the barometric pressure lowers, it significantly decreases the amount of pressure placed on the body. This causes the tissues to expand and puts extra pressure on the joints.

Ways to remedy the pain

When cold weather makes your chronic pain worse, try incorporating heat therapy into your daily routine. Heat helps to decrease stiffness and promotes healthy circulation. Try these tips:

  • Apply a hot pack, warm towel or heating pad to the painful area for 20 minutes at a time
  • Try over-the-counter heat wraps applied directly to the skin
  • Use water therapy by swimming in a heated pool or soaking in a Jacuzzi or hot bath
  • Stay active to keep the muscles warm

If you are suffering from chronic back or neck pain, call the spine specialists at Spine Surgery of Idaho today at (208) 944-0056 to schedule your next appointment.