The prolonged spell of warm weather in Bristol appears to not only have lifted spirits and the sale of San Miguel; patients have been reporting in their droves that their pain has been more bearable in the heat. Is this possible? Can the temperature and climate affect aches and pains? It’s almost understandable when a patient goes abroad on holiday; they are away from their daily routine, relaxing, swimming and generally having a great time. But is there more to it than simply time out? Symptoms tend to worsen again after three days back doing the school run and days in the office, so it suggests not. So… has this prolonged period of good weather been responsible for peoples pain easing, whilst still doing the daily grind, or are we just lifting our moods by enjoying the summer we’ve craved for years?
Expert opinion is divided, but one consistency found in both theory and research is the role of barometric pressure. One of the better known theories is that the increased pressure in warmer times, prevents the joints swelling and thus causing pain. Although this makes sense, it is unfortunately unproven by research. Another theory discusses the role pressure change has on the synovial fluid in the joints, but again this is unproven.
Research in Australia and USA has found no correlation between temperature and level of pain in arthritic joints i.e. you were just as likely to experience pain whether you were in a warm or cold climate. BOO I say!
So the truth appears to lie somewhere in the middle. Pressure changes may influence pain, also I love the idea that sunshine and heat can heal and sooth. I have had thousands of patients tell me that that’s exactly what happens. My own personal belief is a simple one: when the sun shines it makes you happy, and when you’re happy you’re pain is less!
Enjoy the sunshine everyone!