There are theories which propose that changes in the atmospheric pressure and weather can affect joints. These theories even goes as far as suggesting that patients with chronic pain may be able to forecast weather conditions depending on how their joints are feeling.
Studies were conducted regarding atmospheric pressure and how it relates to osteoarthritis (OA), which is when joints are degrading, and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a long term disease that results in swelling of the joints and surrounding tissues. The end results of these studies show a direct link between the increase of pressure, decreases pain and as pressure decreases, pain will increase. Thus, there is an opposite effect. This applies to a majority of chronic pain patients. Earlier studies show that the contrary effect was evident among women with hand OA. Patients with hand OA appeared to experience and increase in pain as the pressure increases.
Physicians and specialists tend to steer away from confirming the link between weather conditions and how it affects chronic pain. Patients continue to visit their doctors with symptoms of long-lasting pain related to weather changes. Reports made by patients with cases of fibromyalgia state their pain worsen with cold, damp weather and stress. Fibromyalgia is general pain with symptoms of tightness, tiredness, and difficulties sleeping. Another example is in the cases of patients with osteoarthritis complaining of swollen joints and warm feelings in the joints when the weather gets cooler and the atmospheric pressure drops.
Regardless of whether there is truly a link between lasting pain and the weather, what has been proven is that patients can still try various non-surgical treatments to minimize symptoms. This is done by offsetting the cold with heat therapy. Heat therapy is recognized for promoting the healing process by increasing blood circulation and decreasing stiffness. This treatment is ideal for patients who complain of increased continuing pain as the weather changes during the fall and winter months. Using warm towels, heating pads, warm water therapy and staying active are all things to consider when minimizing pain.
Hurricane Isaac and Chronic Pain
Florida residents will possibly be experiencing their pain getting worse with cold, damp weather and stress after Hurricane Isaac. They also may benefit from the therapeutic heat treatment as well as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, and cryotherapy which are a form of treatment also utilizing temperatures in medical therapy. Some Florida residents with chronic pain will benefit from the hurricanes when the pressure increases while others will suffer depending on where the pain is. Atmospheric pressure changes when there is a hurricane with the highest pressure at the edge of the hurricane. Since hurricanes start at sea, the edge of the hurricane is usually on land where the pressure is highest.
While the effects of weather changes in chronic pain varies and can be on a smaller scale, the need to include these symptoms in clinical treatment for patients with continuing pain is necessary as some patients appear to be more susceptible to changes in weather conditions than others.