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The Best and Worst Climates for Pain

best worst climates for painThe next time you check the weather, you should also check out The Weather Channel’s aches & pains forecast. Yes, there really is such a thing, and you can either search by your zip code or check out the National Aches & Pains map.

Depending on factors such as chance of precipitation, barometric pressure, absolute humidity change, temperature and wind, your chance of experiencing weather-related aches and pains may range from 1 (lowest risk) to 10 (highest risk). According to The Weather Channel’s Aches & Pains Index:[i]

“This index forecasts the potential for weather-related aches and pains, especially in people with chronic health conditions (such as migraines or arthritis) that might make them sensitive to changes in weather conditions … Areas of quiet, dry weather during warmer times of the year are generally associated with lower levels of aches and pains. Approaching areas of low pressure or strong frontal systems, both leading to stormy weather, may cause higher levels of aches and pains.”

3 Ways Weather Impacts Pain

Specifically, according to The Weather Channel’s Aches & Pains Index:[ii]

  1. Precipitation: Rain, snow, sleet, hail and other precipitation often accompany changes in barometric pressure and humidity, which can bring on pain. On the other hand, hot weather is also associated with higher pain levels, and rain may lead to cooling temperatures and some pain relief.
  1. Humidity: An increase in absolute humidity (the amount of water vapor in the air per unit of air) is associated with increased aches and pains, especially in the summer. Dry cold air with low humidity may also trigger migraine headaches.
  1. Temperature: Rapid changes in temperature are often accompanied by shifts in barometric pressure (the weight of the atmosphere around us), which may impact pain levels, including joint pain. As reported by WebMD:[iii]

“If you imagine the tissues surrounding the joints to be like a balloon, high barometric pressure that pushes against the body from the outside will keep tissues from expanding. But barometric pressure often drops before bad weather sets in. This lower air pressure pushes less against the body, allowing tissues to expand — and those expanded tissues can put pressure on the joint.”

Extreme temperatures, either high or low, may also lead to aches and pains. Low temperatures, in particular, may contribute to joint stiffness and make circulatory conditions worse.

Is There a “Perfect” Climate for Pain Relief?

You often hear of people retreating to warmer climates to ease their stiff achy joints, or of others escaping a hot humid environment in favor of a more tepid climate. According to The Weather Channel’s data, a climate that’s relatively steady, moderate and avoids extremes would seem to be best for pain sufferers, but research suggests “weather affects pain no matter where people live.”[iv]

So says Dr. Robert N. Jamison, who conducted research on climate and chronic pain. He studied the perceived influence of weather on pain among more than 550 chronic-pain patients living in four U.S. cities (San Diego, California; Nashville, Tennessee; Worcester, Massachusetts; and Boston, Massachusetts). What did he find?

“The majority of all patients believed that changes in the weather affected their pain. Pain patients who were younger and who had arthritis reported the most sensitivity to changes in weather. Weather sensitivity was unrelated to all other demographic variables and to geographic region. Cold and damp conditions were considered to influence pain the most. However, the perceived effect of weather on pain was not found to be related to regional climate. Thus, the belief that pain is worsened by living in a colder climate was not supported.”[v]

Interestingly, the people living in San Diego’s “ideal” warm, dry climate reported more sensitivity to weather changes than those living in cold, damp Boston and Worcester. Those in Nashville reported the least sensitivity, and Dr. Jamison believes that pain will follow you no matter what climate you live in:[vi]

“The findings suggest that our bodies adjust to the local climate, and when changes occur in that climate, we react to them with an increase in pain … If you spend two weeks in Florida sipping pina coladas, you may feel a lot less pain than you did shoveling snow at home in Boston. But if you move to Florida and your body gets used to that warm climate, when the temperature drops you may hurt just as much as you did when the weather changed in Boston.”

In other words, it’s the changes in weather that get us, particularly when that change is cold and damp (even if you live in a normally cold, damp climate). Barometric pressure often falls before a change in weather, which helps explain why many people report pain prior to a weather change. So if you start to feel pain and weather changes are in the forecast, you may be better off staying indoors in a climate-controlled environment.

best worst climates for painThis also explains why you may still have weather-related pain even in the middle of the summer – a time when many people stop using far-infrared heating pads since it’s so warm outside. Yet any sudden change in temperature, humidity or pressure could lead to a pain flare up, which is why I keep my far-infrared heating pad at the ready year-round (and it’s no coincidence that I haven’t taken an over-the-counter or prescription pain reliever in nearly a decade!).

If you’ve never tried it, far-infrared heat really is one of the most effective and fastest ways to relieve pain (and heal its underlying causes). If you struggle with weather-related pain (or any type of pain, for that matter), you need one of these at your bedside (… and in your office … and in your car … and definitely pack one in your suitcase when you travel …).

 

[i]The Weather Channel Aches and Pains Forecast Help

[ii]The Weather Channel Aches and Pains Forecast Help

[iii] WebMD, Does Weather Affect Joint Pain?

[iv] New York Times June 7, 1995

[v] Pain. 1995 May;61(2):309-15.

[vi] New York Times June 7, 1995

Filed Under: Pain and Inflammation
Written By: Updated:

Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFTPain Relief Expert, Post Rehab Specialist.

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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4 thoughts on “The Best and Worst Climates for Pain”

  1. Lyle says:

    I suffer from Scatica nerve pain (R,leg / foot) .I would be very pleased if you have any helpful advice. We live in Inverell,NSW, Australia , winters are moderate but fluctuate ,cold ,June-August (min -1to8 /max 12-19) .Summer:- lovely, very low humidity .

  2. Admin says:

    Hi Lyle,

    Thank you for your comment and we would like to help. We believe that education is the number one step for anyone and key for dealing with back pain and sciatica issues, so we have produced our Free book “The 7 Day Back Pain Cure” in order for people to inform themselves better.

    The book has information to understand sciatica, discusses pain relief methods and many different treatment options you can consider. It has other useful health related information as well when dealing with sciatic pain. Please read more about the 7 Day Back Pain Cure book and details of what it covers via the link below

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    Our Best Wishes, Thank you
    Admin (The Healthy Back Institute)

  3. Lee Ann Montgomery says:

    Some rings true other parts not at all! I understand statistical information, but published statistics many times hampers the recognition and treatment of conditiins or disorders! Doctors and other medical professionals overlook or fail to recognize health issues based on statistical information regarding age, gender, genetics, and other information. The patient then receives inferior care because of the statistical studies!
    Granted a GOOD healthcare professiinal should be able to identify a patient’s issues, but too many times they write off symtoms and even the patient’s opinions and reality of his/her condition, pain levels, etc!
    The reality for the patient is most doctors are so specialized they no longer can connect the relationship between the toe bone to the foot bone! Sad but true!
    I have a daughter age 31 who suffers a host of symtoms all matching autonomic nervous system disorder/POTS/FIBROMYAGIA And has multiple orthopedic issues! Doctors run all their tests, supposedly evaluate all the evidence and then talk about one individual item; their field of expertise!
    Example: my daughter went to see a stated specialist in autononic nervous system disorder! He ran the test and when we went to the appointment to hear the results he said” it appears she has a mild form of the disorder but i.m just an electrician. I just check your heart!” THEN This same doctor told her the eins in her legs were weak and wanted to push aquatherapy, at his facility of course, and when she said if aquatherapy was required there were facilities closer to home than 3 hours away, the appointment was pretty much over!
    Tbe really dissapointing part of this is this interaction was with the premier, world renowned hospital in Ohio!
    Where do you go from there? They don’t see the pain, the heart palpitations, the memory loss, the episodes that look like seizues, the fatigue, the drastic weight fluctuations(and No it’s NOT BOLEMIA OR ANOREXIA). They don’t see the periods of leg and foot numbness that cause her to drag her leg around. They don’t see uneplained fevers, depression, and fear! They don’t see her try to hang on to a part time job that she struggles to keep! She has so many symptoms it’s hard to keep track! On top of these she has major orthopedic issues that need addressed. She needs both hips and both feet reconstructed or eventually, she may become non mobile! They won’t do these surgeries because of her heart, but say her heart issues are mild???????????
    Are there ANY DOCTORS WHO TREAT THE WHOLE PERSON AND CONSIDER THE STATISTICS BUT LOOK PAST THEM TO FIND THE TRUTH AND THEN HAVE ENOUGH GUTS OR CONFIDENCE TO ACTUALLY GIVE A DIAGNOSIS, let alone offer real treatment!
    I guess not! Must be why “they” call it PRACTICING medicine!
    We have been going from doctor to doctor, hospital to hospital for years now and we are no closer to finding real answers! The only consolation is if some of these severe symptoms were going to kill her they probably would have by now (we’re hoping) but this does not negate the fact that for all intents and purposes she is disabled and her status deteriorates as we seach for someone who can and will find answers and tell us our options!
    I truly don’t think that’s an unreasonable request!
    We need socialized /universal medicine in this country where keeping people well is the objective instead of ctreating customers!

  4. Lee Ann Montgomery says:

    Sorry for messy spelling. Phone keyboard is not my friend!

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