Chronic pain can impact your daily routine no matter what the weather is like, but many people find that the heat can exacerbate symptoms. While experts can’t always identify the exact mechanisms behind this correlation, people with the following conditions often report worsened symptoms during the hot weather:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Headaches and migraines
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce the heat’s effects on your pain so you can enjoy your summer.
Take a Swim
Water therapy has been shown to improve pain, quality of life, and fatigue in patients with pain conditions. Being in the water has multiple benefits: it can reduce the gravity that strains joints, muscles, and other tissues, increase circulation, and manage inflammation. Whether in the pool, lake, or ocean, see if you notice the benefits of a swim session.
Do What You Can to Stay Cool
It’s challenging to avoid the heat when you want to enjoy outdoor activities. You can still spend time outside, but try these tips to avoid extreme heat:
- Bring a tent, parasol, or other type of shade to the beach
- Plan any yard work, errands, or other activities for the morning or evening
- Wear a hat to keep your face cool
- Stay in the shade whenever possible
- Make sure the AC in your car and home are working efficiently
Trim Down Your Travel Time
If you’re planning a summer excursion, make attempts to break up travel into shorter, more manageable legs. Long periods of sitting put immense stress on the neck, arms, back, and legs, and can therefore contribute to widespread pain. Aim to take an hourly break to get out and stretch, which is also beneficial for circulation and preventing blood clots.
Consider the Air Quality
When you spend more time outdoors, it’s especially important to monitor air quality levels. Air pollution can cause cellular injury and inflammation, which puts added stress on the systems that are already inflamed and causing pain. Use the Air Quality Index (AQI) online tool to check your area’s levels before heading out for the day.
Keep Up with Meals
Whether you have a packed vacation itinerary or the heat suppresses your appetite, you may find yourself eating less during the summer. While you can listen to your body’s hunger cues, be mindful to get plenty of nutrition each day.
Many summer-fresh foods are high in nutrients that can help you combat pain, too. For instance, according to the USDA, cherries have compounds that can help calm pain and inflammation.
Hydration reduces pain by helping the body fight inflammation by flushing out toxins and keeping joints well-lubricated. You’ll lose more water when you sweat in the summer, so that’s another reason to take in plenty of fluids. Aim to get at least eight, eight-ounce glasses of water each day, and snack on foods with high water content such as watermelon, cantaloupe, and cucumber.
For an effective pain management strategy that helps you feel your best in any weather, call 770-929-9033 or schedule an appointment online.