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Regular Chiropractic Care Helps Us Manage a Change in the Weather
Regardless of whether the weather outside is frightful or delightful, your body's internal forecast should resemble a steady state. In other words, ideally you'll be relatively immune from standard variations in temperature, humidity, wind, and precipitation. But many of us are painfully aware of the frequent exceptions to this rule.
Regular chiropractic care helps us counter vagaries in barometric pressure and other atmospheric and meteorological phenomena by detecting, analyzing, and correcting sources of nerve interference. When your nerve system is irritated by spinal biomechanical dysfunction, all sorts of symptoms and physical problems may ensue, including increased sensitivity to changes in weather patterns. By normalizing spinal biomechanics and helping restore optimal function to your nerve system, regular chiropractic care helps us steer a smooth and steady course through the often rough seas of local climate systems.
Regardless of the type of weather, meteorological events have a big impact on all of us. Beyond the sunscreen, floppy hats, raincoats, umbrellas, snow shovels, and de-icers, there are the physiological effects of weather itself. Many of us are all too familiar with the dramatic increase in aches and pains experienced by those who are sensitive to changes in barometric pressure, temperature, and humidity. Importantly, there are several action steps that may be taken to help ameliorate the sometimes significant discomfort and improve the daily living of persons afflicted with "weather pains."
Inflammatory disorders, such as the various types of arthritis,1 are especially sensitive to weather patterns. Arthritic inflammation affects synovial tissue (the layer of cells lining the joint), ligaments that hold joints together, and muscle–tendon units that cause joints to move through a specific range of motion. All of these connective tissues contain numerous pain receptors whose primary purpose is to prevent injury. But pain receptors become problematic when they're firing, not as a signal of potential damage to the joint and its supporting connective tissues, but rather as a response to swelling of the joint structures caused by inflammation. Conditions such as osteoarthritis (when moderate or severe) and rheumatoid arthritis result in ongoing inflammation and, therefore, ongoing pain of greater or lesser degree. Any external process that increases joint swelling will uncomfortably increase arthritic pain. Other conditions with proposed links to inflammation, such as migraine headaches,2,3 are also be susceptible to changes in meteorological phenomena.
As the only way to control the weather we're experiencing is to move to another locale (but as those who move know all too well, each sector of the globe has its own unique climate issues), it's best to employ more practical measures that focus on things we can actually control. These methods are directed toward turning down our internal thermostats, in other words, reducing the sources and causes of physiologic inflammation.
The three primary techniques for reducing one's susceptibility to weather pains are eating a healthy diet, exercising for at least 30 minutes five times a week, and obtaining sufficient rest. In terms of a healthy diet, consuming five portions of fresh fruits and vegetables each day is a primary tool for reducing inflammation. Eliminating preservative- and additive-containing prepared foods is another important step. Gluten is another well-known inflammatory trigger. If you suspect you may be gluten sensitive, you could place yourself on a six-week gluten-free trial and evaluate the results. Exercise is necessary for everyone, and those with inflammatory conditions should consult with their chiropractor or other family doctor to learn what types of exercise they may safely engage in. Finally, those with "weather pains" will greatly benefit from getting an appropriate amount of sleep. Getting by with less rest is not heroic and may be damaging. Seven hours of sleep each night is probably an acceptable minimum, and an average of eight hours of sleep each night will likely result in greater benefit.
These important lifestyle enhancements will not eliminate inflammatory disorders, but they will make the effects of these conditions much more tolerable. These lifestyle improvements will help you better withstand your own climate's weather idiosyncrasies and help support your long-term health and well-being.
- Timmermans EJ, et al: Self-perceived weather sensitivity and joint pain in older people with osteoarthritis in six European countries. BMC Musculoskelet Disord 5: 66, 2014. Published online 2014 Mar 5. doi: 10.1186/1471-2474-15-66
- Okuma H, et al: Examination of fluctuations in atmospheric pressure related to migraine. Springerplus 4: 790, 2015. Published online 2015 Dec 18. doi: 10.1186/s40064-015-1592-4
- Vencloviene J, et al: Effects of Weather and Heliophysical Conditions on Emergency Ambulance Calls for Elevated Arterial Blood Pressure. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 12(3): 2622–2638, 2015