Arizona Summer Heat and Chronic Pain

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In Arizona, getting use to the heat is probably a necessity. Arizona summer's can raise temperatures well into the 110's, sometimes even into the 120's! If you're not from Arizona, the summers here can be hard to handle, sometimes even painful, but if you're an Arizona pain doctor, the summers can be very busy. Temperature sensitivity is a chronic condition for many pain patients, and hot summers or cold winters can have an awful affect on pain tolerance.


Extreme weather, in any form, can wreak havoc on chronic pain. Whether you're living with RSD or CRPS, arthritis, RA, fibromyalgia, or a host of other chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis, extreme heat and extreme cold can have a tremendous affect on how you will feel that day. I know it might be hard to believe, but while there have been many studies over the years by pain doctors, researchers and scientists, there is still no definitive evidence that weather truly affects pain.


Patients in all three groups experienced more pain on days when the temperature was low, while people in the control group were unaffected by any of the weather conditions. In addition, patients with rheumatoid arthritis were affected by high humidity and high pressure; osteoarthritis patients by high humidity; and those with fibromyalgia by high pressure. However, the associations were not strong enough to allow pain to predict weather, or vice versa.

The other study looked at 154 people (average age 72) who lived in Florida and had osteoarthritis of the neck, hand, shoulder, knee, or foot. Participants reported their arthritis pain scores for up to two years, then researchers matched the scores with the daily temperature, barometric pressure, and precipitation status. No significant associations were found between any of the weather conditions and osteoarthritis pain at any site, except for a slight association between rising barometric pressure and hand pain in women.  –


Many of our Arizona pain patients will tell us that the summer months bring muscle aches, muscle tightness, swelling, and a more lethargic mindset. Many of the ‘normal' functions and relationships between the body and the temperature outside are tossed out the window when it comes to chronic pain. Conventional wisdom would state that pain increases in colder weather when the blood vessels constrict and the muscles tighten. And yet, any Arizona pain doctor will tell you that chronic pain increases in the hot summer months when patient's complaints turn to stiffness and sluggishness.


Summer Pain Due To Dehydration

One reason that many Arizona pain patients feel an increased amount of chronic pain in the summer months is simply due to water intake. As any Valley resident knows, water is incredibly important, especially during the summer. The first thing anyone will tell you when you move to Arizona, or if you're visiting during the summer, is to have water with you at all times. Being from other states, many visitors will give you a funny look when you tell them this rule of thumb. But after a few hours in the sun they'll understand.


Dehydration can cause sluggishness and lethargic attitudes, as well as extreme headaches, dizziness and bowel issues, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat and rapid breathing, and fever. All of these symptoms can greatly increase your chronic pain, and if you're living with chronic pain symptoms you might not even realize that your body is trying to tell you it's dehydrated.


There are some chronic conditions that actually put you at higher risk for dehydration such as adrenal gland disorders, chronic fevers, alcoholism, and liver disease. In the most serious cases, swelling of the brain can occur as well as seizures and kidney failure.


Summer Chronic Pain Prevention

Unfortunately, patients living with chronic pain will be at greater risk for dehydration and increased pain during an Arizona summer. However, there are steps that you can take to prevent increased pain.

  • Drink water! As Arizona pain doctors, we can't stress this enough. Drinking enough water is crucial to preventing dehydration. Even the slightest amount of dehydration can increase your pain, and though you might not sense the signals that your body is sending your, not drinking enough water is a recipe for disaster.
  • Avoid overdoing it. During an Arizona summer, it's best to not overdue it with any strenuous activities. Heat stroke is another concern for all valley residents, whether you're in chronic pain or not, so limit your time in the sun to avoid over-exposure. Know your limits and stick to them
  • Listen to your body. Above all, do your best to listen to what your body is telling you. If you start to feel a spike in pain, slow down, drink more water, and get out of the heat.
  • Stay active. This might sound like a contradiction, but try to remain active during the summer. This is a great time of the year to do some swimming in the evening when the sun has set. Quitting your exercise regiment or physical therapy in the summer months simply because of the heat can be detrimental to your overall health.

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Kandice Day has 1 articles online

Kandice is the CEO and founder of Linwright Design, a Gilbert web design and marketing company that focuses on content marketing. Google for more information.

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Arizona Summer Heat and Chronic Pain

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This article was published on 2011/04/13