ADVERTISING: Advertorial — Does the weather really affect my pain?
Dr. Wayne M. Fichter Jr.
| February 8, 2023 1:00 AM
The next time you watch the weather forecast, notice the barometric pressure, measured in inches. Typically, when a low pressure front is coming (and they do, all the time) it signals not only a change in the weather, but a drop in the barometric pressure, which is pressure against the Earth’s atmosphere. As a very loose rule, a high-pressure area will be clear, and a low-pressure area will be cloudy and rainy. Remember when Grandma would say, “Rain’s coming, and I can feel it in my joints?” She actually knew this because of what happens to our bodies when the barometric pressure changes.
Pressure affects joint pain in a fascinating way. Did you know that at all times every square centimeter of the human body has about 14.6 pounds of pressure on it? This constant pushing keeps us together. It increases when you go underwater, and lightens a bit when you ascend in airplanes. But this pressure is always with us, and the slightest deviation can be felt.
So when the barometric pressure drops outside, that means that the pressure against your body drops as well, and your joints and areas that are injured can begin to swell. This swelling causes increased inflammation.
A study done by Robert Newlin Jamison, Ph.D., Professor at the Harvard Medical School and chief psychologist at the Pain Management Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Chestnut Hill, Mass., focused on patients with chronic pain. A survey asked chronic pain sufferers from Nashville, Tenn., San Diego, Calif., and Boston and Worcester, Mass., if they feel an increase in pain when the weather changes. "In a study done on changes in weather and pain, 67.9 percent of the people surveyed responded that they were sure changes in the weather had an effect on their pain. Most of the patients reported that they can feel a change in their pain before rain or cold weather occur," Jamison said.
The culprit that may be responsible for increased pain is not snow, cold or rain. Actually, a change in barometric pressure may be to blame.
Jamison compared the effects of barometric pressure on the human body to a balloon. "When a balloon is inflated, it has the maximum inside and outside pressure. High barometric pressure that pushes against the body from the outside keeps tissues from expanding."
As the barometric pressure falls, tissues in the body may expand. As the tissues expand or swell, they put more pressure on nerves that control pain signals. Thus, more discomfort during low barometric pressure.
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Dr. Wayne M. Fichter Jr. is a chiropractor at Natural Spine Solutions. The business is located at 3913 Schreiber Way in Coeur d’Alene. For more information, please contact us at 208-966-4425.