Seasonal Changes and Chronic Pain: Why it Happens and How to Relieve It
As the temperature starts to drop and the leaves change colors, you may notice increased levels of joint pain as the seasons begin to change. And while it may not be the most pleasant feeling (especially when you’re trying to enjoy the cool autumn breeze), weather related pain is only temporary and can be treated at home using various methods. Read on to learn why seasonal changes can exacerbate joint pain and how to relieve it from the comfort of your home.
Why do changing seasons cause pain?
While anyone can feel the effects of changing weather, people who suffer from chronic headaches, fibromyalgia, and joint pain conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are the most likely to notice the shift in temperature because of increased body aches and pains. While there are a few reasons for an increase in joint pain such as changing humidity levels, shortened day/night schedule, allergies, and temperature, the most common reason is barometric pressure.
To put it simply, barometric pressure is the force exerted by the atmosphere at a given time. It’s also known as the ‘weight of the air’. We typically see a drop in the barometric pressure when the weather is rainy, snowy, or icy. So, if you’ve ever heard your grandparents say that they can feel a storm coming on in their bones, they’re not crazy! A drop in barometric pressure means that there is less pressure on the body which causes the tissue to expand. When the tissue expands, it increases the pressure in your body and causes pain.
On top of changing barometric pressure, lower temperatures can also have an impact on the way our joints feel. In fact, Tufts University did a study in 2007 which showed that those with arthritis felt an increase in pain every 10-degree drop in the temperature. While there is still much research to be done on this topic, science has shown that this occurs because our joints have different densities that react differently to outdoor temperature changes.
How to relieve weather related pain
If you’re dealing with joint pain during the changing seasons and cooler months, there are many ways to help alleviate that pain at home.
• Stay warm. As it starts to get cooler outside, it’s super important to bundle up and keep your body warm. Since changing temperature can increase pain within the body, always make sure to bundle up when going outside and don’t be afraid to increase the heat in your home (just make sure to drink lots of water to stay hydrated!) To help both you and your muscles to relax, you can also take regular warm baths to relieve joint and muscle pain.
• Hydration is key. Speaking of drinking enough water, staying hydrated is critical to ease joint discomfort! While drinking water won’t relieve the pain, it will help to keep your joints healthy by reducing inflammation, improving the production of fluids, and keeping the shock absorbing properties in cartilage at the right levels. If you suffer from headaches, it’s also important to up your water intake as headaches and migraines can be increased significantly due to dehydration. While recommended water intake varies from person to person, it’s recommended that men drink 15.5 cups per day and women drink 11.5 cups per day.
• Keep active. While it can be hard to motivate yourself to exercise during the fall and wintertime, it’s extremely important to lessen the risk of weak muscles and avoid excess weight on your joints. Just don’t overexert yourself by doing straining exercises and keep it light with yoga, long walks, or swimming.
• Use pain-relieving patches. One of the easiest and most flexible ways to treat joint and muscle pain at home is by using topical pain-relieving patches. The SINSINPAS AREX Instant Pain Relief Patches are one of the best-selling pain relief patches and for good reason. The AREX patches utilize a topical analgesic to help alleviate muscle and joint pain temporarily. It’s made from a durable yet flexible fabric so you can apply it and go about your day to enjoy whatever activities you may have planned! The cooling and heating effect provided by the AREX Instant Pain Relief Patches is long-lasting. Plus, it isn’t messy and won’t leave behind a sticky residue on the skin. Each pack of the AREX patches comes with 6 pain relief patches to keep you going during the cooler months.
• Focus on your mental health. When it comes to achy joints, your mental health is probably the last thing on your mind. And while it may seem unrelated, poor mental health can actually cause you to focus more on your joint pain and lead you to feel more discomfort. Practicing self-care on a regular basis can make all the difference in your seasonal joint pain. Try keeping your mind busy with entertaining activities, meet up with friends and family, and don’t forget to focus on yourself every day even if that just means 5 minutes of meditation or an at-home spa night!
• Focus on your diet. We all like to indulge in our favorite comfort foods when it’s chilly outside but it’s important to eat your favorites in moderation! Certain foods can actually increase inflammation which leads to more severe chronic pain within the joints. Foods that are known to increase inflammation are sugar, saturated and trans fats, gluten, refined carbs, alcohol, and Omega-6 fatty acids such as peanut oil, vegetable oil, etc. While it’s okay to consume these foods in moderation, make sure to also include foods in your diet that can help reduce joint pain as well! This includes nuts and seeds, fish oils, fruit, olive oil, garlic, whole grains, dark chocolate, and bone broth. These foods help to decrease inflammation and maintain healthy joints.
Always remember that if your pain becomes too severe or at-home remedies are not working, make sure to see your doctor for the next steps.