Weather Change and Chiropractic Care
Aches and pains during changes in the weather aren’t just an old wives’ tale. While there aren’t many scientific studies that confirm how weather affects chronic pain, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence. During the onset of winter and through the cold months that follow, many people experience profound physical and mental effects that present as painful or aching joints. Why do these effects occur? Let’s take a look:
Cold and Your Joints
There are two schools of thought as to the cause of aching and painful joints in cold weather.
Blood Vessel Constriction
The first explanation addresses how your body naturally tries to conserve heat when exposed to cold over extended time periods. Even if you spend most of your time indoors, your body still adapts to the prevailing weather. When your body goes into heat conservation mode, it directs more blood flow to your torso, specifically to the heart and lungs.
As blood flow to the core increases, your blood vessels in the extremities constrict. This decrease in blood flow causes your joints to become stiffer and colder, resulting in muscle and joint aches and pains throughout the body.
Your body is far more susceptible to air pressure changes than most would believe. At sea level, the human body is under a constant pressure of 14.7 lbs.per square inch (PSI). It’s a constant load of weight on your joints in all directions. Your joints and back are accustomed to this weight and pressure, and most of the time it’s not an issue.
When there is a drop or increase in barometric pressure due to weather changes, your joints and back must readjust to compensate for the change. Drops in barometric pressure appear to allow muscles and joints to expand, increasing sensitivity and potential for inflammation.
The reverse is true when the barometric pressure increases, restricting blood flow and causing stiffness and poor circulation. Both effects are often considered contributing factors to weather-related joint pain.
Solutions For Relief
What can you do to help mitigate the effects of weather changes on your back and joints? We recommend regular chiropractic adjustments and massage therapy. Realigning your spine and joints when the weather shifts help reduce the effects of constriction and expansion in cold weather. Regardless of the specific cause, an adjustment every few weeks has been shown to alleviate weather-related chronic pain. Massage therapy also improves circulation and helps restore lost blood flow to joints and extremities that may occur due to barometric and temperature changes.