Some recent pain-related research crossed my desk that’s left me feeling a strange mix of vindication and exasperation. If you battle any sort of chronic pain, as I do, I’m betting you’ll feel much the same way.
For years many so-called experts have told us that it was just our imaginations when we said our pain was worse in certain weather.
They’ve insisted it was nothing but an old wives’ tale as we crawled out of bed on rainy days feeling like something the dog dragged in… or battled pounding migraines as a cold snap hit.
Well, my friend, it’s time for conventional medicine to once again feast on some crow. Because new research confirms we were right all along.
Your aching knees, pounding head, or throbbing fingers were indeed “predicting the weather” with every pain-filled twinge.
CONFIRMED: Weather CAN affect how your feel
Now, of course, researchers won’t ever just come out and say, “You were right all along.”
Instead, there’s a lot of hedging, hemming, and hawing. And you have to dig through a BUNCH of words to get to the truth.
Think I’m exaggerating? Check out this gobbledygook conclusion…
“Although observational, these findings suggest that weather has a causal, non-linear, dynamic effect on pain tolerance,” the researchers said.
In other words, they’re willing to agree that many of us have an increase in pain in response to variations in the weather. However, they say it’s our “tolerance” to the pain that’s changing.
But let’s face it. That “you call it toMATEoh we call it toMAHToh” conclusion really boils down to one thing. And that is, you were right all along.
The amount of pain you’re feeling can change in response to weather conditions.
Study links pain to weather conditions
For the study, about 19,500 middle-aged folks, who were participants in another ongoing study, completed two kinds of standard research tests…
- The pressure pain tolerance test (PPT) measures your ability to tolerate pain from increasing pressure on your lower leg.
- The cold pain tolerance test (CPT) measures your ability to tolerate pain caused by immersing your hand in frigid water.
Those results were bumped up against data on weather-related conditions such as temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, precipitation, and wind speed. And after some number crunching, some patterns started to emerge.
For the PPT, seasonal variations in the volunteer’s responses didn’t appear to be very strong. In other words, they didn’t tolerate the pressure applied to the leg better based on the timing of the test… spring, summer, winter, or fall.
But a deeper dive revealed measurable links between the weather and the discomfort folks taking the PPT felt. And when the researchers focused on changes in temperature and barometric pressure specifically, they indeed predicted participant’s responses to the test.
With the CPT, the researchers DID see a significant seasonal variation. During cold months folks were able to tolerate the cold-triggered pain better. Plus, just like with the other testing, the volunteer’s pain levels did fluctuate with the weather.
Tips to ease the aches on bad weather days
If you find weather has a significant impact on your pain levels, try staying indoors on those bad days. And go ahead and adjust your heat, air conditioning, and dehumidifiers as necessary to help reduce your pain.
If your pain spikes in hot weather and you have to go out, try wearing light-colored and looser fit clothing. Make sure to stay hydrated. And try cooling products such as a chilling hat or headband and a personal battery fan.
If it’s cold that triggers your pain symptoms, try wearing layers, keep throw blankets in rooms where you spend more time, and try applying heat wraps or heating pads for short periods (no longer than 20 minutes) on sore spots. And don’t forget your vitamin D. Low D is linked to an increased sensitivity to pain.
Popping into a warm shower or bath can increase your blood circulation and help soothe aches and drive down pain. And don’t overlook the power of gently massaging the painful areas.
And regardless of which kind of weather sends your pain levels climbing remember gentle movement is one of the best ways to combat chronic pain. So be sure to add some easy stretches and gentle exercises to your routine on those days the weather makes the aches worse.
Check out my free report Fight stiffness & pain with 8 daily flexibility stretches for some ideas.