UNDER PRESSURE - OR THE WEATHER.
A peripheral nerve disorder's behaviour
"under the weather".
THE SAWYER CONJECTURES!
During my experienceof the disorder described on earlier pages I noticed a link between many relapses and sharp falls in ambient (surrounding) atmospheric pressure, in effect "mini-lows".
The crisis always features the onset of even stronger cramping of the muscles in my feet and ankles and up into my lower legs. My toes may lift completely off the floor. This is neuro-muscular change. There is more excruciating pain and it all becomes very tiring, debilitating and quite exhausting. In spite of being so tired sleep can become in short supply in these painful conditions.
The fall in local/ambient pressureis indicated on our Spout or Water Barometer (pictured top right). This is the oldest type of barometer known to mankind. The atmospheric pressure acts on the surface of the water and causes the level in the bottle to rise during higher pressure and to fall in step with the pressure’s fall. As the water level falls in the bottle the water rises up the spout and then drips out during deeper falls in the pressure. So the Germans call it a Pinkel Barometer or a Donnerflasche, a thunder bottle. (In Sweden, where our bottle was made and bought, it is known as an Åskflaska or Pisse Barometer!). Although it is ungraduated the water barometer is reliable and consistent. Its movements are even finer than those on our mercury barometer. It is important to understand that what is being indicated is a "mini-low", as these changes can occur in either overall high or low pressure situations.
Usually, the start of my relapse precedes any indication on the water's surface! Any steep rise up the spout may be an indicator of possible inclement weather on the way. As for scientific assessment it must be said that the relationship between my crisis relapses and the mini-low falls in pressure as indicated on the water barometer is invariable in my experience. The relapses are different to "normal" relapses and appear to be enforced by the conditions. Windy weather often leads to greatly increased pain.
Some other inflammatory or auto-immune disorder patientsknown to me also suffer similar crises and have various indicators of pressure falls. "Expert" opinion has suggested that some sufferers may have heightened awareness of and sensitivity to pain. There is more to it than this explanation. There is muscular change and increase in pain. This is no old wives' tale! It is the regular experience of ordinary people.
My other web site is NERVE PAIN AND THE WEATHER . It contains more information about connections between health, pain and the weather conditions. The comments of Professor Robert Jamison of Harvard University Medical School, about the link between atmospheric pressure and pain, are worth noting!
Conjecture 1.My neuropathy is believed to be an autoimmune disorder that has a strong inflammatory response. In these circumstances there is the constant potential for a defensive response by the immune system to any perceived invasive threat. The usual invaders are either an injury or a virus. When so threatened, the immune system begins to produce extra prostaglandin. This then acts on the nerve endings. Messages are passed that are interpreted as pain. The prostaglandin also causes the muscles to further contract or shorten. This combination of pain and tightened or cramped muscles is exactly what some others and I experience. So my first conjecture is that the crisis relapses are caused when the immune system perceives the fall in the ambient atmospheric pressure as a threat. It then responds, with the ensuing consequences. A senior medical person has suggested that this theory is as good as anyone else's!
That the approaching change in atmospheric pressure, sensed by the joints' membranes that expand as the pressure drops, causes some kind of disequilibrium in the body pressure of those people with already damaged nerves, muscles, joints or tissue. As described above, swelling of the joints and the sensitizing and irritation of the surrounding nerves begins even before any obvious changes in the humidity or temperature or wind velocity. So quite subtle movements in joints, muscles and tissue may be triggered by the oncoming damp, cold or even by rising wind levels and the pain becomes very intense.
So - Conjecture 1 or 2?It may be a combination of them but 2 seems to be the more probable.
Since 1998 I have received e-mails from several parts of the world linking the mailers’ experience to mine.I have also had several responses on the GBS Foundation International's forum pages about CIDP sufferers having similar experience in "under the weather" conditions.