When your great aunt Sally said that she could “feel a storm comin’ on,” she may have been telling the truth.
Many people attest that they experience joint pain in response to seasonal or temperature related fluctuations. Creaky or achy body parts are often reported beginning in the fall when temperatures drop, and continuing until the days turn long again. Some, like Aunt Sally, may even feel indications of inclement weather before it arrives. There are three probable reasons these changes occur.
Any change in the pressure or the weight of the air pressing against the surface of the Earth is called barometric pressure. Pressure tends to decrease before bad weather. The reduction of air pressure against the body allows tissue to expand. This expanded tissue can put pressure on joints and cause joint pain.
The fluid in and surrounding the joints may also be a factor. Acting upon the fluids within the body, barometric pressure may increase nerve sensitivity. This concept is called a nociceptive response. Another theory is that the viscosity of the fluid that lines the joint sacs is increased, causing joint pain.
Headaches and migraines have been linked to a drop in barometric pressure. The pressure difference between the atmosphere and air-filled sinuses can cause pain. Already congested or blocked sinuses exacerbate this pain.
When temperature drops the body will conserve heat and send more blood to organs located in the center of the body, such as the heart and lungs. The lack of blood to the body’s extremities may cause muscles, ligaments and tendons to tighten or stiffen.
When the weather is warm we tend to relax the body. In contrast, when we are cold the body tends toward hunching or tightening. People are also generally more active when the weather is fair (with the exception of winter sports enthusiasts). Less activity means a decrease in the flow of nutrients and oxygen to joints.
Something is Not Right:
The body has a built in system that responds when we experience extreme situations and need to restore balance, also known as homeostasis. When temperatures are below the average of what is necessary to achieve this balance, the brain may alert the body in the form of pain.
The brain also has a tendency to see or recognize implied patterns, influenced by external social norms even if the pattern does not actually exist. Because of this, we may be more likely to remember times when our pain got worse in cold weather than when it didn’t. Weather could be making the body more aware of discomfort and joint pain.
Ways to Combat Weather Related Joint Pain
Epsom Salt Soak Bath
This is not the same as the salt you put on your french fries. In water, epsom salt breaks down to magnesium and sulfate. This absorbs into the skin with the aid of warm water. The amount used depends on the size of the bathtub and individual person.
Over 325 enzymes and pathways are regulated by magnesium. The compound also assists in proper function of muscles and nerves, preventing arteries from hardening and reducing joint pain and inflammation. Magnesium deficiency is linked to many health conditions.
The heat from the bath water can also increase the circulation of blood, reducing swelling from inflammation. Plus sometimes a warm bath just feels really nice.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
The body cannot build omega 3 fatty acids from other nutrients consumed. This is why they are considered essential. Omega 3’s have been shown to support joint health and reduce swelling. Fatty acid composition of bone and joint cartilage changes with age, becoming more deficient in omega-3s. Sufficient levels can be achieved by consuming fish or taking an over-the-counter liquid or soft gel supplement.
CBD Hemp Oil Topical and Oral Applications
Pain is processed by receptors that initiate a response. As far as the scientific world is aware, all vertebrates (animals with backbones) come equipped with their own natural endocannabinoid system. This consists of endogenous cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors as well as enzymes that break down cannabinoids. This system determines the way we process and utilize cannabinoids within the body, including topical applications such as CBD oil (cannabidiol).
Research shows CBD Oil receptors, inhibit production of the enzyme that breaks down the neurotransmitter called anandamide. The purpose of anandamide is to block pain receptors. More anandamide equals less pain.
Hot and Cold Packs for Joint Pain
Heat: Relaxing muscles and stimulating blood flow are also two ways heat can help minimize joint pain. The warmth also serves to improve circulation, and help increase range of motion.
Cold: On occasion pain can be severe enough to cause a burning sensation. Applying a cold pack may numb affected areas and reduce joint pain.
It is important to remember, when using heat therapy, that you should not apply a heat pack to an area already experiencing a hot sensation. Cold packs should not be be applied to an already stiff or cold joint.
Collagen Type II
This compound contains a number of swelling and stiffness reducing and joint supporting proteoglycans including glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate. Collagen supports overall joint health. Commonly used as a powder mixed in to liquids, it can easily be added into any diet. It may take as long as 4-8 weeks to see significant results.
Protein comprises approximately 20 percent of the body’s mass. Collagen is about 30 percent of that protein. It is easy to see why collagen is important to joints as well as muscles.
Coping with Seasonal Changes
You may notice it in your joints, but seasonal changes can also alter your mindset. Studies have shown that the winter month and inclement weather put a damper on physical activity, energy levels and even socialization. This is often enough to bring on the blues. When moods are already sub-par it is easier to feel bad about the little aches and pains you may be feeling. Making sure your body continues to stay in adequate balance with nutrition and supplementation may be a key to coping with seasonal changes and helping to alleviate joint pain.