|Weather Sensitive Pain
By Dr. Robert Schwartz
Many people believe that weatber sensitive pain is a myth, a complaint taught to them by their parents to explain why they were grouchy or not feeling well on any particular day. Recently, however, the medical community has come on board, reporting that the phenomenon is real.
What is confusign is that the barometric pressure is the determining factor, not the weather we see outside at the moment. Most often a falling barometer is the culprit, although in a minority of cases, the opposite is the case. The effect is also more pronounced the colder it is.
It may look gorgeous outside, but a cold, rain front is on the way, and those with weather sensitive pain will complain. Likewise, it may be raining outside, but a warm front is about to move in and the afflicted may feel better. People with this problem become the best weathermen around.
Weather sensitive pain is caused by the Sympathetic Nervous System. This portion of the nervous system monitors for injury of soft tissues in the body. It also regulates those functions that occur automatically, such as heart rate, swelling of the fingers on a hot, humid day, sweating, and constriction of blood vessels.
Due to its ability to perform these functions, if the barometer is about to change, the sympathetic system responds. If a body part is or has been injured, then it will be more senstive to a rainy or cold front on the way in, and pain may occur. Someone with a knee injury may complain of knee pain as it begins to swell due to a change in the barometer.
Sometimes this condition becomes more severe and the pain can be excruciating. If it is bad enough then a medical diagnosis of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy might be given. In others where the problem is moderate in nature, Fibromyalgia may be diagnosed. If there is arthritis present, then the pain is often attributed to that. In all cases, however, the sympathetic system is the source of the pain.
While traditional arthritis and pain medicine can help, special treatments that increase blood flow are often much more effective. Think of someone having a heart attack. While you might want to give pain medicine, you definitely would want to give medicine to improve blood flow, as well. Certain kinds of injections, nerve blocks, and physical therapy can also provide significant relief.
Home remedies include stretching, taking an Epsom salts bath, or trying to keep warm. In fact, there are so many options available today to help with sympathetic pain that no one should have to accept the old adage "learn to live with it" without giving at least some of them a try. For in depth information of different severities of sympathetic pain syndromes, the reader is invited to log onto www.scrsda.org.
For more information, contact Dr. Schwartz at Piedmont Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation P.A. at 864.235.1834 or www.piedmontpmr.com.
Reprinted with permission from Dr. Schwartz and www.piedmontpmr.com
Added February 7, 2008