Can the weather actually affect a patient’s level of pain? It’s not very often that we associate chronic pain and the weather, but studies show that the weather can have an effect on levels of pain for patients suffering from chronic pain. Lower barometric pressure and higher levels of humidity have proven to be associated with increased levels of pain and pain intensity, particularly in patients with fibromyalgia.
One study of over 2,600 people in 2019 showed that on damp (humid) or windy days there was a 20% higher chance of patients experiencing more pain. The University of Manchester conducted this study and hopes that because we can forecast and track the weather with smartphones, physicians will be able to develop pain management plans in accordance with the weather conditions to better their patients.
Managing Chronic Pain In The Heat and Humidity: What To Do
Despite the summer months being inevitable, there are several ways patients can manage their pain in the heat and humidity.
- Maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle. Gentle exercises like swimming or yoga can help build up muscle, keep the body active and at a healthy weight. Exercise also releases natural endorphins that help boost your mood and block pain signals.
- Fueling the body with nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables alongside low-impact activities provides a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle that is always a key in managing pain or auto-immune conditions.
- NSAID’s or over-the-counter medications like Advil, Tylenol, and Ibuprofen can be taken to help lower inflammation and ease discomfort.
- Avoid excess heat. Don’t spend long periods of time outdoors, or don’t do so without taking breaks to cool off.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and to support your body in the hot summer months.
- Keep a hospitable environment within your home by utilizing fans and a dehumidifier to keep the heat and humidity in your home low.
- Try topical products that have a cooling effect such as mint soaps or Biofreeze.
- Relax with meditation and deep breathing to ease tension.
- See a massage therapist as massage can help relieve tension and reduce stress.
- Dress for the weather. Wearing comfortable fabrics like cotton, silk, or linen, light colors, and loose-fitting clothing is ideal in the heat and humidity.
- Track your daily pain levels and activities. By tracking what you do daily and how you feel, your doctor can have a better idea of how you feel between visits. In turn, this will help your doctor put together the most effective treatment plan for you. If you feel your pain is different or worse during the summer months, this is a great way to help your doctor understand what you are dealing with daily and adjust your treatments as necessary.