Ahhh, summer – sunshine, pools, the beach, sandals, warm weather — what’s not to love? Especially if you’ve been hunkered down at home for the last year. But if you’re one of the millions of Americans who suffer from chronic pain, the heat, sun, and humidity of summer can be miserable — your pain symptoms worsen, and managing the pain becomes even more challenging than usual.
If you have osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, the heat and humidity of summer can cause swelling of the fingers and other joints. Or you may be sensitive to barometric pressure changes and humidity. Another big problem in the summer months is overexertion in the heat, which can lead to dehydration and salt depletion that can aggravate pain symptoms, especially if you have fibromyalgia.
Fear not. You can still enjoy the summer months with these solutions for summer aches and pains on hot and humid days.
- Practice Relaxation – Meditation, deep breathing, or other relaxation techniques practiced every day can help your body and mind cope better with chronic pain, even during the hottest days of summer. Relaxation and breathing techniques can lower your body’s stress response. Stress is one of the biggest triggers of chronic pain and inflammation.
- Stay Hydrated – Hot weather will quickly zap your body of needed fluids, so drink lots of water. Hydration is important to help the body clear out inflammation that leads to pain. Avoid beverages that contain alcohol or caffeine — which can promote dehydration — or sugary sodas. And don’t wait to drink until you’re thirsty to drink water. Challenge yourself to consume at least 8 glasses a day.
- Get Plenty of Sleep – Some pain management techniques are easier than others, and this is one of them. Aim for around eight hours of sleep each night to help recharge your batteries and leave you feeling better equipped for dealing with the heat. If you have trouble falling asleep, practicing some of the relaxation strategies mentioned above before bed may help.
- Workout Wisely – Moderate exercise should always be part of your pain management program, but in the summer, you need to be smart about when and how you workout. Exercising outside on hot days is obviously not a good idea. Take your workout indoors or, if you want to be outside, be sure to exercise in the early mornings or later evenings when it’s cooler.