Those who suffer from chronic pain need to be especially careful during summer days when the heat and humidity are at their worst.
There are a number of chronic pain conditions that have been noted to be affected by hot weather. Experts still do not know exactly why this occurs, but it is such a common occurrence that researchers continue to investigate it.
Although pain is often associated with cold and rainy days, high temperature and humidity can actually be worse for chronic pain.
It is believed that increased pain is often caused by changes in barometric pressure which is the weight of air within a given atmosphere. Low pressure occurs in the presence of storms and high pressure when the weather pattern is clear. Some studies indicate that drops in pressure affect your joints by putting increased pressure upon them. But it is also believed hot weather affects inflamed tissues.
Here are several chronic pain conditions that are affected by high temperatures:
People with osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis, report increased pain when the weather changes. Patients with arthritis usually report joint pain when it gets colder or if it’s rainy but they also cite worsening joint pain in warm weather as well.
Some studies suggest that older people with osteoarthritis experience more joint pain during hotter weather. Researchers from the European Project on Osteoarthritis believe that changes in temperature and humidity affect how joints expand and contract causing episodes of pain.
The vast majority of people with fibromyalgia tell their doctors that their symptoms worsen whenever the weather changes.
According to the National Fibromyalgia Association, pain related to fibromyalgia seems to generally occur when the weather is cold and humid. Of course, it can be quite humid during the summer as well depending on the climate where people live.
People with fibromyalgia will experience more muscle pain or fatigue whenever there is a greater fluctuation in temperatures. Studies that have been conducted suggest that changes in weather do not affect all patients in the same way.
People with multiple sclerosis, a chronic neurological disease, will experience pain, most commonly as a type of neuropathy, in their arms, legs, back. Sometimes the pain will manifest itself as trigeminal neuralgia, a type of facial pain that feels like an electric shock on the side of the face.
MS symptoms worsen as body temperature rises. So the summer days do not treat those with MS too kindly. Fortunately, once a patient can find an air-conditioned room, the pain will dissipate.
Headaches and Migraines
Changes in temperature can set off tension-type headaches and migraines. Being out in the sun for long periods of time can also cause dehydration which can cause migraines and headaches.
For people who have chronic pain during the summer, here are some ways to stay cool and reduce your pain:
- Drink Plenty of Water. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water helps the body to maintain electrolyte levels which in turn helps people with the pain that comes from dehydration.
- Stay Indoors. When extreme heat and humidity trigger your pain, being in a space with an air conditioner can help regulate your body temperature. The more time you spend outdoors in the heat, the more your joints will ache. The heat can also affect the efficacy of anti-inflammatory medication.
- Wear Loose Clothing. Wearing clothing made of lighter and more breathable material like linen or like cotton can also allow your body to cool more easily. Heavier and tighter clothes do not allow sweat to evaporate and thus regulate your body temperature.
- Go for a Swim. Everyone who wants to avoid the summer swelter knows that taking a dip in the pool is a perfect remedy. Swimming is also a great exercise for people who have chronic joint pain or arthritis.
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