Dr. Mark Kestner (crop)


Many people in our area are about to begin experiencing an increase in their level of chronic pain. I’ll tell you why in this article.

I have been studying pain for decades. Pain is often the main reason patients call a doctor. It is also the reason billions of dollars are spent on drugs, treatments and other efforts to find relief.

Counting lost productivity, treatments, disability and other costs related to pain, the annual cost is estimated to be more than $300 billion.

When you look at all of the drugs that are available specifically to mask pain and the fact that people must continually spend so much money directed toward pain each year, it would seem obvious that we are not actually being very successful as a society in addressing pain.

That is one reason I continue to search for answers. It is really frustrating to me when I see a patient that has been prescribed pain medication for months (or years) without any change in their underlying condition.

Let me point out that I clearly do not have all the answers for all kinds of chronic pain. Often, I meet with a patient and ultimately tell them that unfortunately, I do not have an answer for them. There are so many painful conditions that do not have good answers … yet. There is always ongoing hope that soon an answer will be found for every painful and debilitating condition known to man.

However, it is gratifying when I am able to help a patient find a truly effective treatment to resolve a long-standing painful condition. Thankfully for many, this happens. In many cases we are able to ultimately find a lasting solution for an underlying painful condition that has previously been overlooked.

So, why will many people begin having more chronic pain soon? The short answer is the weather.  However, just saying the weather doesn’t explain very much. Two people may be in the same weather and one experiences pain and the other feels fine. What makes changing weather a problem for some and not for others?

There are several different climatic factors that can affect our health and our level of pain or discomfort. For some, it is the temperature, for others the rain or humidity. For others it is the atmospheric pressure that causes a change in their pain.

This can lead to some tricky associations because weather patterns can often impact temperature, humidity and atmospheric pressure all at the same time.

Decades ago, during my early acupuncture training a very experienced acupuncture clinician advised that patients will often need to be treated “when the seasons change.” I have found this to be true for many patients, whether they are acupuncture patients or are seeing me for something else. 

Our bodies do have to go through shifts and changes to accommodate for seasonal weather changes.  This often causes stress for our bodies during seasonal changes.

You have probably heard that the moon’s orbit affects the gravitational pull on Earth enough to cause the ocean’s tides to change. Even this subtle change may be enough to affect some people that have greater sensitivity to the moon’s gravitational forces. 

Speculation about the moon’s effect on human mental and physical health has existed throughout history. However, scientific efforts to pin this down have resulted in mixed results. For example, it has been determined that we tend to have poor sleep during full moon phases, and this could certainly affect health. However, some other purported effects of lunar cycles have been studied and no conclusive confirmations have been found.

The atmospheric pressure has been demonstrated to clearly have an effect on such human ills as joint pain and sinus pressure. This is often seen when a low-pressure system moves in and many patients begin to feel joint pain before the rain begins or headaches that arrive with bad weather.

With the approach of fall and winter our bodies will also experience colder outdoor temperatures, drier indoor air, less sun exposure, less activity for many, increase in tendency toward depression and dietary changes. In Middle Tennessee the prevailing climate of cold and damp can have a significantly negative impact on pain levels.

All of the above factors play a role in how people experience pain. In short, people that experience any chronic pain may tend to experience more incidences of pain or a greater level of pain during the coming months.

In our office we will soon begin to see more people making appointments for care that have managed to do well during the preceding months. Understanding how our bodies must adapt in so many ways explains this trend very well.

Dr. Mark Kestner is a licensed chiropractic physician in Murfreesboro. His office is at 1435 NW Broad St. Contact him at mkestner@DrKestner.com.

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