The cold temperatures are a tough time to bear for every single person. But for people suffering from fibromyalgia, which is characterized by severe exacerbating pain throughout the body, getting through the winters gets challenging. Individuals with fibromyalgia commonly report the exacerbation of their symptoms as soon as the weather becomes cold, indicating that cold weather does affect fibromyalgia too negatively.
One probable justification could be that cold weather causes most people to shut their activities and lead a life within the confines of a cozy blanket, which in the case of fibromyalgia patients contributes to more aches, because of the physical de-conditioning. For fibromyalgia sufferers with arthritis, the cold weather can be really brutal and may cause the joints stiffness which adds to the overall body pains. Moreover, whenever the atmospheric pressure drops before rain or storms, and the barometer displays a drop in the pressure, it also causes a rise in the swelling of joints which worsens the symptoms and discomfort.
Other than the acute aches spreading throughout the body, fibromyalgia also has various other symptoms like irregular sleep or lack of sleep, fatigue, cognitive problems often referred to as fibromyalgia fog, which is characterized by forgetfulness and lowered concentration levels. This disease has a 2% prevalence rate in the USA according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and occurs seven times more commonly in women as compared to men. Scientific data supporting the cold weather and pain association for fibromyalgia is quite limited, and the available data doesn’t present a uniform relationship between specific weather conditions and the symptoms of aches in fibromyalgia sufferers. However, some patients are more susceptible and sensitive to weather alterations than others. It is essential for fibromyalgia patients to remain as active as possible, and dress in layers, for assisting in the management of fibromyalgia during the cold weather. Boffins claim that mood does have a direct impact on the severity of the symptoms as well, with depression making it more challenging to tackle a severe ache disorder like fibromyalgia. The most effective treatment strategies are dedicated to employing the newest scientific proven therapeutic strategies to lessen the exacerbating symptoms of fibromyalgia and to assist with chronic pain disorders like fibromyalgia. Researchers are working to innovate a suitable, personalized treatment plan for the patients which involves medications, therapy, and/or recommended changes in the lifestyle, and these alternatives have been well researched and proven to curb fibromyalgia symptoms.
The winter season is marked by greater icy roads and frigid temperatures for fibromyalgia sufferers. The patients living in the colder regions with acute pain spreading throughout the body get exacerbating flares or during durations of worsened symptoms. A fibromyalgia patient residing in Cleveland, Ohio who has had this disease for 8 years shared that she experienced far more muscle pains during the cold and damp weather. This disease occurs in 4 million of the American population among which 80-90% are women, and the symptoms comprise muscle, ligament, and tendon pain, tiredness, depression, and multiple tender points.
Cold weather affecting fibromyalgia symptoms
The cold temperatures and varying barometric pressures tend to increase the aches for the patients, but the exact cause remains unknown. The hyper-sensitized Central nervous system misinterpreting the nerve signals for cold as the signals for pain is most likely to be the reason for it.
Consulting a doctor
The patients must immediately contact their physicians and discuss with them how the cold affects their symptoms and makes them feel. A patient discussed her experience about shying away and explained that she had put behind the idea of talking to her doctor about the worsening of her symptoms and didn’t consult for any additional medicines for the winter flares, due to which she couldn’t normally function because of the constant pain. Having consulted with the doctor, she feels safe and prepared to deal with this issue. Consultation with a doctor, and having prescribed medications will better help in your staying prepared for the changing conditions.
Studies of patients with fibromyalgia normally indicate light sleep, and abnormal waking brain waves throughout the night, which means an absence of restorative sleep. The lack of deep sleep results in alterations in the body and the brain which cause pain and various other symptoms. Therefore, ensuring that the patients get an ample best quality need is most essential, and it is recommended to the patients to practice good sleep hygiene throughout the year which includes:
- Sticking to a regular bedtime routine
- Avoidance of alcohol
- Avoiding eating larger meals in the evening
- Shutting off the electronic devices.
When the muscles turn cold, they tend to compress, spasm, and tighten, which in turn exacerbates the fibromyalgia pain. For the cold-sensitive patients, the aches become unbearable. However, the experts recommend taking long warm baths at night, as the warm baths relax the muscles and decrease the levels of stress and work to improve the quality of sleep as well. The patients are also recommended to try out various breathing exercises.
Eliminate the stress
Winters are known to be accompanied by alarming levels of stress due to bad weather, road conditions, deadline pressure, gloomy evenings, and social obligations. The stress might increase the pain of fibromyalgia according to research published in a famous journal in 2015. However proven stress reduction therapies like meditation, and yoga can prove to be effective in eliminating stress. The most basic stress eliminating protocol will be not over-exerting oneself with more responsibilities than one can handle, and that will hopefully keep the stress and the fibromyalgia symptoms at bay.
Workout in the right way
Regular exercise is one of the most useful treatments for fibromyalgia according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). However, the unbearable frost, stormy weather, short days, and slippery sidewalks make things complicated in the winters. Getting around these complications, and regularly working out with mild aerobic exercise is the key to manage the aches of fibromyalgia, depression, and sleepiness.