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You hear references sometimes, many conjuring up images of toothless old geezers sitting on their rocking chairs, complaining about how they can tell a storms a-comin’. They can feel it in their bones.

Much has been written about possible connections between pain and weather – just do a quick google search on “pain and weather” – and there isn’t much agreement. There is some suggestion that barometric pressure, or particularly rapid changes in weather, are a strong indicator for increased pain. Still, it varies from patient to patient.

I haven’t researched this extensively lately – my main sources at this point are a 1995 N.Y. Times article and a Weather Channel article on Aches & Pains 101. Admittedly not the most reliable or exhaustive study. I would search more, except I’m recovering from a migraine that means that looking at the computer screen for too long makes me slightly queasy. Scratch that – I feel slightly queasy anyway. Of course, reading a mystery novel set in the practically tempest-filled Dartmoor, England probably didn’t help. (The book is quite good, though.)

I just started a new pain journal – more on that in another post – and have been tracking weather patterns, as well as things such as exercise, sleep, food, and of course pain.

What does today’s flare-up indicate? Inconclusive at this point.

The most I can point to is that it was an unfortunate conflation of triggers. I didn’t sleep until 3 am, and got up at noon. Spending so much time in bed hurt, and I forgot part of my previous night’s medication. It was bright and windy outside, and I had chocolate (a known migraine trigger). True, the barometric pressure changed rapidly – dropping from 29.96 inches Friday to 29.69 Saturday, then increasing today to the 30.11 range. (I use averages for simplicity.)

Is it the pressure? The chocolate? The sleep patterns? Or some nebulous interaction?

One data point amidst four days of symptom tracking doth not a pattern make. It does strengthen my commitment to keeping a pain log, to see what I might find.

A friend of mine passed on an interesting article from the New York Times about migraines. (I’m posting it as a “special weekend edition,” as I don’t know how long the article will be freely accessible online. With the newspaper industry the way it is, I think the NY Times charges for older articles.)

“Some early data suggests that if you let headache pain go without treatment it can lower your threshold for pain down the line,” Dr. Saper said. In other words, untreated headaches can make you more vulnerable to pain.

On the other hand, if you are taking over-the-counter or prescription painkillers two to three days a week for months on end, the medications you are taking to dull pain could worsen your condition. You may then start to experience medication-overuse headaches — a risk for migraine sufferers.

I think this is one of the really tricky things about medications. Not only do you have to find the right medication that works for your body, you also have to figure out the right dosage. How much medication is too much? Am I able to lower my dosage safely, or will I have renewed symptoms?

There is also a lot of controversy – particularly in alternative medicine settings – about taking prescription medications at all. I know many people are uncomfortable with taking medications, often particularly with taking painkillers. I can understand this, and yet many people also don’t have a choice about whether or not to take their medications. For example, someone with HIV/AIDS should not go off their anti-retrovirals.

It’s particularly interesting to see this article’s mention of the positive/negative effects of medication on chronic pain. Pain is such a nebulous thing anyway. Different people have different pain thresholds, and chronic pain takes the issue to a whole new level.

How do we treat pain in our society? I think it’s certainly telling that we have medications called “painkillers.” Yet untreated pain, as mentioned in the article, can negatively affect a person’s quality of life. Certainly, having pain all the time – particularly with no effective coping strategies or pain management – is really, really terrible.

Researchers are learning that pain and the medications used to treat pain can potentially change the biology of the brain.

Receiving good treatment can help you function more effectively, and will probably also save you money over the long term. And if you have health insurance, it should cover most of the relevant medical evaluations and treatments.

The question of universal health care aside, I think the key thing this article mentions is “good treatment.” The article continues by talking about effective strategies for talking to your health care provider about migraines/chronic headaches, as well as some supplements migraine sufferers may find helpful if they’re going the “alternative” route.

I’m glad that researchers are studying the effects of medication, unmanaged/untreated pain, and treatment strategies on migraines. I’m interested to see what further studies reveal. I feel like the study and article raise a lot more questions than they answer.

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A fibro-friendly item from my Etsy store

I've been working on making fibro-friendly jewelry. I'd love it if you checked them out by clicking the image above, or going to www.etsy.com/people/RogueCrafter

About Me

This blog is intended as a place for me to reflect on my own healing journey, in the hopes that others may also gain insight from my experiences. I've "borrowed" a line from Robert Frost's poem, The Road Not Taken:

'Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.'

I think the most important thing for me now is that I feel empowered to be a force for positive change in my life. And that, my friends, has made all the difference.

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