For many years, the connection between weather and chronic pain has been dismissed as nothing more than urban legend or an old wives tale. Robert Newlin Jamison Ph.D, who teaches in both the Harvard department of psychiatry and the Harvard department of anesthesiology, has been quoted as saying “Everyone’s got an aunt who complained that her knee or ankle would flare up. Or Uncle Charlie’s shoulder would give him trouble and he would say, ‘Oh, the weather’s changing.‘”
Even though most of the academic community has overlooked such anecdotal evidence, Doctor Jamison chose to investigate further, conducting a study published in Pain magazine that surveyed chronic pain-sufferers across the United States which revealed that more than two-thirds of people who had chronic pain felt that they could predict the weather based upon their symptoms. Jamison ended up making a conclusion that many doctors and scientists have since agreed on: barometric pressure changes — which tend to occur in conjunction with high humidity, storms, temperature drops, and other dramatic weather events — may cause increased pain for people suffering from arthritis and other chronic pain-causing health conditions.
The heat and humidity of summer is a frequent culprit of sudden storms and rapid weather changes, both of which can contribute to chronic pain. Moreover, summer sun and heat can contribute to dehydration and sun exposure, both of which can compound preexisting pain. In brief: summer is a challenging time of the year for anyone suffering from chronic pain.
That’s why we’ve compiled this helpful list of seven ways to soothe chronic pain in the heat of summer. Read on to learn more about what you can do to stop summer pain.
1. Prioritize hydration.
Dehydration can cause headaches, fatigue, constipation, dry skin, chapped lips, trouble focusing, lightheadedness, vertigo, irritability, and tightness/pain in the muscles and tendons. For those suffering from chronic pain, these symptoms can amplify the effects of conditions such as arthritis. Drinking enough liquid, especially on hot days, is a simple and straightforward way of combating these symptoms.
2. Don’t forget the UV protection!
You probably already know that excessive sun exposure is the leading cause of skin cancer. Because sun burns can also lead to widespread pain, fatigue, and dizziness, wearing sunscreen is another no-brainer when it comes to controlling chronic pain. Make sure that your sunscreen doesn’t contain harmful ingredients. Fact: there are at least 27 sunscreen ingredients that are banned in Europe, Japan and Canada, but allowed in the U.S. Find better quality sunscreens here: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/browse/sunscreen:+SPF+15-30/#.WXlAhsBlDMI
3. Dress for success.
Lightweight and light-colored clothing is an easy way of keeping cool in the heat of summer, which will reduce the negative effects that heat can have on your body.
4. Swimming = healthy summertime fun.
Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise for anyone suffering from chronic pain, as it helps provide a balanced workout for your muscles without the high-impact strain that exercises such as running and weightlifting require. In the summertime, swimming is even more effective for pain-control, as it helps your body cool off and relax in the face of high temperatures.
5. Don’t neglect your regular pain management routine!
Summertime means vacations, time off, and relaxation for many people — but that’s no excuse to take time off from your pain management routine. Be sure to make all your appointments and complete any prescribed exercises and medication schedules in order to optimize your results.
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