Whether you’re suffering a lifetime of ongoing chronic pain or simply still recovering from a more recent temporary injury, this time of year poses special concerns, particularly for those dealing with back pain. Everything from the change in weather to the activities common to the season can have an effect on your pain.
While it’s common for people to associate drops in temperature with increased chronic pain levels, doctors are not all in agreement about the causes behind this phenomenon. While some people associate increased seasonal pain with the changes in temperature alone, there are often other factors in the mix.
Barometric pressure — or the pressure of the air — can affect joints, but humidity, precipitation, and temperature are also at play. That makes it tricky for scientists to pinpoint exactly what it is about the weather that leads some people to report more pain when it’s cold, rainy, or humid. (WebMD)
In addition to the factors mentioned above, another cause behind seasonal pain may simply be the activities that are associated with that season. For example, people who do lots of gardening in the spring may experience higher pain levels. If their pain is due to joint issues, the increase is not due to the weather itself but the activities they’re participating in as a result of the weather.
The same thing can be said for fall.
Springing into Fall
Typically, as we head into the fall season, we look forward to participating in specific physical activities.
- Carving pumpkins
- Picking apples (and other types of seasonal produce)
- Taking nature hikes
- Storytelling around the campfire (while roasting marshmallows, naturally)
- Shopping at a farmer’s market
- Making pies
- Curling up in the window seat with a good book
- Getting lost in a corn maze
- Raking leaves (and jumping in the piles!)
- Winterizing your home and property
If you suffer from chronic back pain, reading that list could feel like reading a list of triggers. You may feel as if you’re faced with the choice of enjoying the season and dealing with the consequences or missing out on your favorite activities in hopes of staving off a flare-up.
On the other hand, if your pain is relatively new, you may never have walked through the fall season with it before. In that case, you may be unsure what will trigger an increase in pain. You may start the season with high hopes and find out partway through that in order to survive, you’ll need to change some of your routines.
Surviving the Season
Surviving any season with chronic pain requires taking a different approach than people without pain.
In order to prevent a flare-up of back pain, you may need to avoid certain activities altogether and modify others to lower your risk. In other words, enjoying fall might look like hiring a service to winterize your property so that you can save your energy for a fall hike. It may look like buying a bushel of apples at the farmer’s market this year rather than picking them yourself.
Rather than feeling discouraged by the changes you may need to make, view seeking solutions is a proactive way to thrive.
Such solutions may involve:
- Being kind, patient, and gentle with yourself
- Regularly reassessing your pain levels
- Building a strong support system
- Being strategic about consulting with professionals
While all the items on that list are important, consulting with professionals should perhaps take precedence. A professional can not only help you understand the root causes behind your pain, but they can also point you toward simple solutions that you may never have discovered otherwise.