If an old injury nags you during a rainstorm or when the temperature drops, you could be experiencing residual nerve damage sensations from weather changes. Tennis star Monica Seles told Sports Illustrated that years after she was stabbed during a match in 1995 she continues to feel twinges in the incision during weather fluctuations. Why does weather impact nerve injury years after the injury has healed? Although mostly anecdotal, scientists are examining how weather influences nerve damage.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Harvard professor Dr. Robert Jamison conducted a 1995 study at Brigham and Women's Hospital's Pain Management Center regarding the effects of nerve damage and the weather 23. Dr. Jamison noticed that the pain management center waiting rooms were fuller on days when the weather was damp and humid versus days when weather was warm and sunny 3.
He furnished questionnaires to a random selection of people living in Boston and Worchester, MA--specifically where climate changes are dramatic and vast. Dr. Jamison also provided the same questionnaire to a group living in San Diego where the weather is mild and stable. A total of 557 questionnaires were dispensed for this study.
Not surprisingly, all respondents reported that cold, damp conditions influenced their pain levels, however most study participants said that they could feel heightened nerve sensations before the weather change 23.
- Harvard professor Dr. Robert Jamison conducted a 1995 study at Brigham and Women's Hospital's Pain Management Center regarding the effects of nerve damage and the weather 2.
- Dr. Jamison also provided the same questionnaire to a group living in San Diego where the weather is mild and stable.
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The impact of weather on nerve damage ranges from tingling sensations to burning, numbness or shooting sensations. If you experience a traumatic injury and nerve endings around the injury are damaged, you can experience residual neuropathic pain.
Neuropathic pain is when you continue to experience pain or sensations after the injury has healed due to post nerve damage. This pain is a mechanism in the sensory processes of the peripheral or central nervous system. The brain is sending a flawed message to the nerves, creating the pain or sensation. Neuropathic pain or sensations is what people with nerve damage feel before or during weather changes 23.
Unfortunately neuropathic pain does not always respond to medication or treatment and is sometimes discounted by others telling the injured person that it is “all in your head.”
- The impact of weather on nerve damage ranges from tingling sensations to burning, numbness or shooting sensations.
- Neuropathic pain is when you continue to experience pain or sensations after the injury has healed due to post nerve damage.
No specific drugs are intended to treat neuropathic pain; however some drugs can lessen the sensation effects. For example, anticonvulsants and anti-depressants appear to reduce pain and sensations in one-third of neuropathic pain sufferers. These drugs come with side effect such as dizziness, skin rash and blurred vision.
A non-drug approach to neuropathic pain is the TENS (transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation) method. A TENS machine is a small device that sends a small pulse of electrical current through your body with the idea of calming over-excited nerves. Another non-drug method is acupuncture.
- No specific drugs are intended to treat neuropathic pain; however some drugs can lessen the sensation effects.
- A non-drug approach to neuropathic pain is the TENS (transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation) method.
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- Bossema ER, Van Middendorf H, Jacobs JW, Bijlsma JW, Geenen R. Influence of Weather on Daily Symptoms of Pain and Fatigue in Female Patients With Fibromyalgia: A Multilevel Regression Analysis. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2013;65(7):1019-25.
- Delir Haghighi P, Kang YB, Buchbinder R, Burstein F, Whittle S. Investigating Subjective Experience and the Influence of Weather Among Individuals With Fibromyalgia: A Content Analysis of Twitter. JMIR Public Health Surveill. 2017;3(1):e4.
- Macfarlane TV, Mcbeth J, Jones GT, Nicholl B, Macfarlane GJ. Whether the Weather Influences Pain? Results From the Epifund Study in North West England. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2010;49(8):1513-20.
- Timmermans EJ, Schaap LA, Herbolsheimer F, et al. The Influence of Weather Conditions on Joint Pain in Older People with Osteoarthritis: Results from the European Project on OSteoArthritis. J Rheumatol. 2015;42(10):1885-92.
Gina Ragusa has made a career out of writing for the past 15 years, with an emphasis on financial institution writing. Ragusa has written for Consumer Lending News, Deposit and Loan Growth Strategies and Community Bank President. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from Michigan State University.