What You Should Know About Chronic Pain in Summer
June 8, 2021
Even though doctors and scientists can’t explain the exact reason for it, we do know that certain weather conditions can make some chronic pain conditions worse. It may have a lot to do with shifts in barometric pressure, and the fact that heat and humidity affect inflamed tissue, including how joints expand and contract. But whatever the cause, a hot, humid summer can be a difficult season for some people.
Chronic Pain Conditions that May Be Affected by Summer Heat
Here are three of the most common chronic pain conditions that may make life difficult in the summer:
- Headaches — Tension headaches can be triggered by a change in weather, while shifts in humidity, temperature, and air pressure during the summer can lead to dehydration, also a common cause of chronic headaches.
- Arthritis — Those who have inflammatory arthritis often experience joint pain when the temperature changes, which is likely due to tissues expanding and contracting. This triggers pain and discomfort.
- Fibromyalgia — Weather and fibromyalgia symptoms are linked when the weather is humid, in particular. People who have fibromyalgia often have “temperature sensitivity,” which means extreme temperatures (whether hot and cold) have worsening effects on pain and symptoms.
How to Manage Chronic Pain During Summer
To prevent the heat from aggravating or worsening your underlying chronic pain, try these strategies this summer:
- Keep your body hydrated. This is the number one piece of advice for many reasons. Drinking enough water and maintaining proper fluid and electrolyte levels is important for preventing pain and symptoms that are caused by dehydration. Take a water bottle with you wherever you go, and remember to limit alcohol and caffeine intake.
- Seek out shade and air conditioning. If you must be outside, try to stay in the shade as much as possible. Also remember to wear protective clothing and apply sunscreen to avoid sunburn. When possible, spend the hottest part of the day indoors.
- Spend time in the water. Swimming and water aerobics are a great way to alleviate joint pain and cool off.
- Take your own chair to activities. If there’s any question about seating at an activity or event, take your own lightweight, folding chair. Any seat will probably be better than bleachers or the ground, but try to find one that will be comfortable for you so you won’t make conditions, such as back pain, any worse.
- Think about your mood. Many experts believe that the weather can influence our moods, which can then affect how we feel. Instead of dreading summer weather, try to embrace it for what it is and find ways to cope with it. Also remember that summer doesn’t last forever, and cooler days will be ahead.
We know summer can be challenging for those with chronic pain, but you will get through it! Another thing that may help is committing to making it to any appointments you have with us at Southside Pain Specialists this summer. Schedule and plan around trips or vacations to ensure that you will receive the care you need.
Start your pain management journey by scheduling an appointment at Southside Pain Specialists
With highly specialized training and a multitude of pain relief options, Southside Pain Specialists follow the standards of the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, The American Board of Pain Medicine, and the International Spinal Injection Society. We work hard to provide patients with comprehensive, caring pain relief when they need it most. Check out our website or contact us today at 205.332.3155 to learn more.