227…That is a big number. 227 days seems like a long time, but 227 years…well. that seems like forever. 227 years ago, this month, the Farmer’s Almanac was first published. That was back in 1792 and it is still going strong today. Some people swear by it, and some people think it is hogwash. It is a publication shrouded in mystery, not knowing how they predict the weather. Kind of the way you view your crazy Uncle Carl when he tells you a storm is a brewin’. However, unlike the Farmer’s Almanac, Uncle Carl’s joints are not shrouded in mystery.
Uncle Carl sits on his porch each day taking in the scenery. One day, as you are visiting, he turns to you and says, “A storm is coming in.” It is sunny and warm outside. You start to worry about your crazy Uncle Carl and ask him, “How do you know?”. He tells you his knee is telling him. Sure enough, that night it pours down rain. Crazy Uncle Carl is not so crazy now, is he? That’s because weather does affect our joints. I deal with joint health at Gundlach Chiropractic, so let’s dive into the topic and explore a little more.
Go Away Weather, You’re Hurting Me!
It’s not an uncommon complaint from those who suffer from joint pain to feel more pain when the weather changes. In fact, just yesterday, one of my patients (not crazy Uncle Carl) and I were talking about this topic with the cold weather coming in. There’s no consensus among scientists for the specific mechanism that may cause these changes, but there are a few theories as to why this occurs.
The prevailing theory involves air pressure. Many people think that damp, wet, and cold weather are to blame for their increased joint pain, but it’s the barometric pressure that impacts people the most. This can cause headaches, too, but that’s a topic for another blog.
Here’s a little meteorological lesson for you: Barometric pressure is the weight of the air that surrounds all of us. Now imagine the tissue surrounding joints to be like a balloon. High pressure will push against the body and keep tissues surrounding joints from expanding.
When inclement weather is nearing, barometric pressure drops. The low air pressure reduces the pressure on the body, allowing the tissue surrounding the joints to expand. The expanded tissue then puts pressure on the joint and boom! You’ve got crazy Uncle Carl telling you a storm is a brewin’.
Throw in the fact that people who suffer from chronic pain are often more sensitized due to inflammation, injury, adhesions, or scarring, and you have people who can claim to predict the weather with their joints.
The Beverly Hillbillies?
Ok, Clampetts. Let’s pack up and head out. Whoa, there. You might want to slow your roll a little bit! Arizona, Texas, and Florida may sound like great destinations for those who suffer from joint pain, but less dramatic weather doesn’t guarantee you’ll be free from pain, especially if you suffer from chronic pain. Chances are, it will follow you wherever you go.
Keep your head up. If you notice pain during weather changes, you can still find relief. The best way to deal with this is to:
Keep warm – When it’s cold outside, dress in layers, keep your home heated comfortably, and warm up the car before you get inside. These measures can help to ease some of the pain related to weather changes and the cold.
Prevent swelling – Warmth will help with joint pain, but not inflammation or swelling. So, try to wear supportive clothing that can help to keep your joints from swelling. If you have arthritis in the hands, for example, try using spandex gloves to keep fluid from the joints.
Get moving – Exercise is always a great way to loosen painful joints and relieve stiffness. So, make sure you get your minimum 20 minutes of moderate exercise in each day to help find relief.
Work with your chiropractor – One of the best ways to help reduce joint pain is to work you’re your chiropractor to reduce joint dysfunction and restriction. By keeping your joints working at their very best, the weather may not be such a factor!
Don’t blame the Farmers’ Almanac for your Uncle Carl’s joint pain. This October, rest comfortably in the knowledge that while the weather may impact your joints, you’re not at its mercy. You can fight back!
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, and other material contained within this article are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this article is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to provide or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your chiropractor, physician, or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read within this article.