September is Pain Awareness Month; I actually find this ironic because if you have chronic pain, you probably don’t need anyone to remind you of this.
September also signals the change of seasons. Autumn is my favorite time of year. I love the warm days and cool nights. I love watching football with family and friends and seeing the beautiful colors of changing leaves.
But with changing seasons comes the change of weather. I live in Ohio where we experience 4 distinct seasons. I think I’m a better predictor of changing weather than the most talented meteorologist.
Have you ever been able to predict the weather because of your pain? I know I can and I’m pretty consistent about it. For me, 48-hours before a weather change, my pain level will sky rocket!
My lower back is more stiff and achy, and it will actually start throbbing. I’ve asked my pain doc about this and he swears that there isn’t a connection. But he does admit that he has several patients who also say their pain is worse with weather changes.
I think the increase in pain comes from the changes in barometric pressure. What is barometric pressure you ask?
According to How Stuff Works, a barometer measures the air pressure. When the barometric pressure “rises”, it means the pressure of the air is increasing. When the barometric pressure is “falling” the air pressure is decreasing.
Interesting fact? The barometric pressure in space is 0.00! Space is a complete vacuum – cool hunh!
But what actually happens to our body when the barometric pressure changes? According to researchers – A LOT can happen to our bodies due to the changes in barometric pressure.
Mother Nature Network points out that changes in barometric pressure can impact blood pressure, cause headaches or migraines, make it more difficult for people with diabetes to control their blood sugar, and – you guessed it! – make pain worse.
A study from Tufts University in 2007 found that every 10-degree drop in temperature patients reported an increase in arthritis pain. They also found that with low barometric pressure, low temperatures and precipitation can cause an increase pain. The researchers aren’t sure why this happens.
The Arthritis Foundation even has a cool page where you simply put in your ZIP code and it will tell you the current weather conditions in your area and the Current Arthritis Index. The Index will show you your predicted joint pain level based on the weather conditions.
So, I’m curious! Does the change in the weather affect your pain level? Do you track the barometric pressure to see if there is a connection with your pain level? What does the changing weather do to your pain level?
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Until next time
~Dr. JB Kirby