BLOG

I Blame It On the Weather

Although you might not see it, your joints may certainly let you know winter is coming. There is little research that supports the effects of weather on joint pain. However, there is evidence that indicates there is a strong indication in people with Osteoarthritis,between joint pain and average humidity especially in cold weather conditions. The effect of humidity on pain was stronger in relatively cold weather conditions. The correlation is strong with a three day average, however there was no significant association between day-to-day weather changes 1.

Osteoarthritis (OA), is a degenerative joint disease characterized by damage and loss of articular cartilage and changes in bone. It is the most common cause of chronic pain in older persons and the leading cause of disability 2. A study was done with six different European countries with different climates, which identified characteristics of older persons with OA. Low temperature, high atmospheric pressure and high humidity shows a high correlation with pain in RA, low temperature and high humidity in OA, and low temperature and high atmospheric pressure in FM 3. Science behind all of this stipulates changes in temperature and humidity may influence the expansion and contraction of different tissues, such as muscles, fascia and connective tissue in the affected joints. As a result, this could elicit a pain response, which may discourage you from taking that mile walk in the morning. In addition, low temperatures in the environment may increase the viscosity of the synovial fluid, thereby making joints stiffer 2. This can further lead to more sensitivity to the pain of mechanical stresses your joints feel when you go to stand up. If you are reading this and are above the age of 65 years, female and have anxiety, you might find this information useful. You are a candidate whom might feel the effects of low temperature and humidity changes more than others. Research indicates, women and or who are more anxious, are more likely to report weather sensitivity (Figure 1). It is also suggested that weather affects mood, resulting in an alteration of pain perception2.

But why?… A possible explanation could be that poor mood might increase subjective complaints of pain or more anxious people with OA might tend to blame their symptoms on something they can comprehend but cannot control more than less anxious people with OA2.

What can you do to prevent the cold getting to your joints?… Early treatment such as exercise or even physical therapy for weather-sensitive individuals with OA, especially women can help. Doing different strengthening and balance exercises on top of cognitive and psychological interventions may reduce suffering and may help maintain a functional lifestyle 2.

Since there is some evidence out there supporting the relationship between joint pain in OA and weather, this may help individuals with OA, physicians, and therapists to help better understand and manage fluctuations in pain1. Next time you find yourself blaming the weather for your knee pain, you might want to smile before getting out of that blanket to change your mood.

 

Citations

Timmermans EJ, Schaap LA, Herbolsheimer F, et al. The Influence of Weather Conditions on Joint Pain in Older People with Osteoarthritis: Results from theEuropean Project on OSteoArthritis. J Rheumatol. 2015;42(10):1885-92.

Timmermans EJ, Van der pas S, Schaap LA, et al. Self-perceived weather sensitivity and joint pain in older people with osteoarthritis in six European countries: results from the European Project on OSteoArthritis (EPOSA). BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2014;15:66.

Strusberg I, Mendelberg RC, Serra HA, Strusberg AM. Influence of weather

_______________________________________________

The Best Athletes in the World are just that, Athletic

-Mythbusting early sports specialization amongst youth aged kids

Well we’ve reached another school year, the leaves are starting to change and pumpkin spice everything is here. We at Specialized Physical Therapy are happy to kick off Physical Therapy Month with a discussion on an important topic. Early sports specialization is defined by the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine as follows: 1. Participation in intensive training and/or competition in organized spots greater than 8 months per year. 2. Participation in one sport to the exclusion of participation in other sport and 3. Involving prepubertal (less than age 12) children. In a survey of 3090 athletes across the major competitive levels, current high school athletes are specializing about two years earlier than current collegiate and professional athletes.2 While two years may seem insignificant, it may mean missed opportunity for key developmental periods to develop proper movement patterns in favor of becoming better at that individual sport. It is generally accepted that kids are getting more competitive than ever, we are bringing you the evidence to go against current trends and that earlier sports specialization is doing more harm than good for your athletes.

This graphic is from the American Academy of Pediatrics. While it is widely known that athletic scholarships are extremely competitive, what should immediately jump out to you is that overuse injuries as well as burnout are increasing more than ever in the current athletic environment.

Who is to blame? Quick Answer: Everyone but the athlete

The 10,000 hour rule: This may have been incorrectly used and glorified in the media as the origin was from previous studies evaluating the formula to chess players’ success.1 There are many factors that must be taken into account in order to attain elite status. From unique physiologic qualities to understanding that young athletes must learn important fundamental physical movement skills that transfer to multiple sports.1 Therefore, it may be possible to achieve elite status from an accumulation of other activities and not just sport specific training.

The loss of deliberate practice: A shift from youth-driven or free play has shifted to more structured parent and coach driven activities. It is important to recognize that playing sports without the consistent intervention of coaches (before age 13) has been identified as necessary to develop essential skills.3 Many professional athletes will often say that their best memories as a kid were playing pickup games without the pressure of a parent or coach where they really fell in love with their respective sports. Also, it is only in late adolescence that children may develop the necessary skills needed to invest in highly specialized training and understand the costs/benefits of intense focus on one sport. 3

Earlier recruitment: College recruitment has been reported as starting from as early as sixth grade.3 This has created unnecessary pressure for children and according to the US Olympic Committee are at a developmental stage where they are just starting to moving from the Discover, Learn, and Play stage to the Develop and Challenge stage.3 In multiple consensus statements provided in this blog post, there must be a tempering of expectations during competitive events and the level of skill necessary at each age level.

Still don’t agree:

There were 322 athletes invited to the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine, 7% of whom played multiple sports in high school and 13% of whom only played football1

Watch Sidney Crosby, considered the best NHL player right now, display amazing footwork on the ice and was a former soccer player in his youth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DDYIBLUZxk&t=310s

Recommendations:

*Sidenote: It is unclear whether high risk sports such as figure skating, gymnastics and diving poses a risk for long term health and well being as there are conflicting reports.1

References:

  1. Brenner, J. S. (2016). Sports Specialization and intensive training in young athletes. Pediatrics, 138(3), e20162148.
  2. Buckley, P. S., Bishop, M., Kane, P., Ciccotti, M. C., Selverian, S., Exume, D., … & Ciccotti, M. G. (2017). Early Single-Sport Specialization: A Survey of 3090 High School, Collegiate, and Professional Athletes. Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, 5(7), 2325967117703944.
  3. LaPrade, R. F., Agel, J., Baker, J., Brenner, J. S., Cordasco, F. A., Côté, J., … & Hewett, T. E. (2016). AOSSM early sport specialization consensus statement. Orthopaedic journal of sports medicine, 4(4), 2325967116644241.