October 23, 2012

Achy joints, other pains a telltale sign of changing barometric pressure

Chiropractors around Wichita don’t need the forecast to tell them when changes in the weather are coming.

Chiropractors around Wichita don’t need the forecast to tell them when changes in the weather are coming.

A plunge in temperatures or the barometric pressure invariably prompts a surge in phone calls.

“I do get busier,” said Mike Hermann of Hermann Chiropractic. “No question.”

Local chiropractors are bracing for a surge in business late this week, with forecasts calling for temperatures to plunge more than 50 degrees between Wednesday afternoon and early Saturday morning. Highs this afternoon should be in the mid-80s, with lows over the weekend falling to the low 30s.

Barometric pressure will drop with the arriving front, then rebound quickly after the system moves through, National Weather Service meteorologist Vanessa Pearce said.

“We’re anticipating it,” Jason Armstrong, a chiropractor at Reflection Ridge Chiropractic in west Wichita, said of the flurry of phone calls. “More than likely Thursday morning and for sure by Friday.”

Local chiropractors say substantial changes in temperature and barometric pressure affect people who have arthritis or joint or muscle inflammation. It’s more pronounced with barometric pressure changes “when a storm comes in – any kind of tornadic activity, especially,” said Michael Manley, a chiropractor at Hancock Chiropractic.

“We definitely see it.”

Fluid in encapsulated joints such as knees has to shift to adapt to the changes in the external pressure, chiropractors said. That causes pain in joints compromised by arthritis or inflammation.

“Muscles contract even more to protect the joint,” Hermann said. “It just compounds things.”

Cold air makes muscles contract, too.

“Another thing we see, too, now is that on cool nights like this, folks tend to leave their windows open at night,” Armstrong said. “The cold breeze makes muscles contract, and then they quiver to try to stay warm. And people wake up, and they can’t move their neck.”

To counteract the dramatic shifts in the weather, people with arthritic joints or muscle injuries should stay well-hydrated and keep moving, chiropractors say.

“Our bodies are designed to be in motion,” Armstrong said. “If we’re just sitting around all day and all night, those joints are going to get locked up.”

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