You probably already suspect that fibromyalgia pain and weather changes tend to interplay with each other.
As human beings, we tend to talk about the weather a lot. For many people it might be more in terms of a disruption to their planned activities or just making small talk.
However, for those of us with fibromyalgia, the weather changes can cause many symptoms to increase and really affect our overall well-being. There is a phenomena that some of us experience during weather changes which creates a feeling of simultaneous fatigue (not your average fatigue) and an overactive nervous system.
Can you imagine feeling like you're going 60 with no gas in the tank?
Do you often know that a weather change is coming by the aches or cramps in your muscles? Perhaps you tend to feel exhausted and unable to function when temperatures drop in the winter. What happens when the weather moves through a period of high atmospheric pressure?
If you have fibromyalgia and you have noticed that your pain spikes and dips along with the temperatures outdoor, you’re likely experiencing the connection between fibromyalgia pain and weather.
You often hear me talk about Spring allergies and how these might increase the propensity for flares. There can be additional fatigue during seasonal changes and weather or temperature changes. Knowing this can be helpful, and you are not alone.
In a study performed by Dr. Ingrid Strusberg in Australia, the fibromyalgia-weather connection was studied through questionnaires. 151 people suffering from fibromyalgia or arthritis answered questions regarding their pain at different times throughout a one-year period.
Their results were compared against 32 adults with no known medical conditions, and it was clear that the pain experienced by the first group did correspond to outdoor temperatures.
Those with fibromyalgia were more likely to experience pain when the weather was cold and when the humidity or atmospheric pressure were high. While many medical professionals dismiss the idea that pain can spike when temperatures drop, many people suffering from chronic pain experience this phenomenon on a routine basis.
I know for myself, and many people I have worked with over the years, that weather changes can definitely exacerbate symptoms in fibromyalgia, and its primary co-conditions. Do most of us need a study to verify that? Not really, but it is good to know, right?
The best thing that you can do as a person with fibromyalgia is listen to your body. Keep a short term weather log that details how you feel along with the weather outside. Do you feel more symptoms in the head including swollen glands, migraines, or sinus pain that radiates around the face?
Notice if you start having any water retention around weather changes. If you have any form of arthritis like many of us do, you might notice more joint pain. With both fibromyalgia and arthritis, you might also notice the joints affected tend to correlate with tender areas of the fibro body, like the neck, knees, hips, and lower back.
Because people with fibromyalgia tend to have temperature dysregulation issues, you might find it more challenging to acclimate when the seasons change.
How could we talk about the weather connection to fibromyalgia without talking about brain fog?
One area of the body that is vulnerable to changing weather patterns is the brain. I just experienced this recently. We had many days of rain and greater humidity. I found myself experiencing a lot of brain fog and memory issues.
Just like arthritis factors can be influenced by barometric pressure, so can fibromyalgia and the brain. And the other thing we all "like to hate" is the effect it can have on our confidence. I know, I get it. Our brain fog issues can "flare up" during an actual flare, or during weather changes like higher barometric pressure changes.
When inclement weather comes around OR stays around for a few days, it's even more important that we write things down because symptoms in the brain can create a downward spiral that can really affect our confidence.
Could there be a positive side to weather changes?
Have you ever experienced the "calm before the storm?" and felt a sense of euphoria or lightness in your body? The barometric changes are not always negative. Sometimes before a rain, you might feel lighter and other times you might feel pain and heaviness. It is hard to know, but if you track your own patterns, you may see that it's not always negative.
Also during and after a good rain, you can get the added benefit of negative ions, which can be relaxing to the mind and body. The negative ions are helping to clear the air of allergens, pollen, and toxins. It's truly a good thing.
If you do notice that you experience more pain when the weather dips below a specific temperature or when it falls within a clear temperature range, moving may cross your mind. For most people, pain increases when it’s cold outside or during periods of high precipitation or humidity.
If you currently live in a climate that experiences a high level of rainfall or extremely cold winters, then moving to a warmer year round climate is something that you and family members should consider if at all possible.
If it is not possible for you to move, then you might get creative in how you can create a strategy for better managing of symptoms. You might consider getting an inexpensive infra-red sauna, like the one we have in our Natural Remedies page.
Both weather and altitude changes can bring on much of the same symptoms, often times in the head, causing radiating pain, migraine headaches and pressure that can become debilitating.
Read more here about traveling with fibromyalgia and some things we can do.
It’s clear that many people who live with chronic pain experience fluctuations in pain levels as the weather patterns shift. Listen to your body and do what you believe is best for your health.
Do you have an option as to where you live?
If moving to a warmer or dryer region would allow you to live a more active lifestyle with less debilitating pain, then moving may be in your best interest. There might always be family or financial issues that make these kinds of moves more challenging, but keeping your options open can be helpful in the long run.