When it comes to chronic pain syndrome, there is no universal definition, but it is often explained as pain that has persisted for longer than 12 weeks, or beyond what would be expected to have been a normal healing period.
The term ‘chronic pain syndrome’ is an umbrella term used to define long-term pain which can arise from a variety of different sources. One of the most common triggers of chronic pain disorder is an injury, such as one caused by a road accident or fall, where the pain lingers after the initial physical damage has healed – with no obvious cause.
Cold weather and chronic pain
Some people love the winter months when the nights get darker earlier and temperatures drop, but for others it can be challenging. A change in weather requires the body to function differently to conserve heat, and cold weather can worsen symptoms for those with weakened health systems, especially joint and other chronic pain conditions. A report has shown that 92% of patients suffering from chronic pain believe their symptoms are exaggerated when the weather gets colder.
What causes greater pain in winter?
There are a number of scientific reasons as to why pain is greater in winter when temperatures drop, including:
- swelling of joints and their surrounding tissues – when barometric pressure drops due to bad weather, the air pressure pushes with less force against joints. This allows the tissues to expand, which in turn applies greater pressure to the joints
- muscle stiffness – reduced temperatures cause stiffness and when muscles are stiff and tight, spasms are more likely to occur, leading to intense discomfort and pain
- oversensitive nerves – colder temperatures can cause widespread muscle and joint pain caused by an increase in nerve receptivity. Cold weather has a negative influence on nerve conduction, so any pre-existing nerve damage becomes more noticeable
How to cope with chronic pain
In many cases of chronic pain syndrome, pain relieving drugs are prescribed in order to manage the pain, however this can cause some undesirable side effects for the patient, such as drowsiness, dizziness or digestive problems.
This forces many sufferers to turn to alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, reiki and mindfulness techniques in order to alleviate the pain.
Extreme cold can make our bodies increasingly sensitive. In winter in particular, the following can help to keep the body warm and help reduce pain associated with the cold temperatures:
- Dress warmly – dress for the weather, especially if you are going outside. Dressing warmly will protect your skin and joints from the elements.
- Stay physically active – staying indoors and being less active when the weather is cold can be tempting, however it is recommended to get 30 minutes of cardio, strength, or flexibility training daily, even if that is done indoors.
- Stretch – low impact exercises such as yoga or tai chi help stretch the muscles and keep you active as well as help reduce mental stress.
- Boost Your Vitamin D – during winter, it is common to suffer from seasonal depression and feeling slower due to reduced exposure to sunlight. You can increase your levels of Vitamin D by taking supplements or trying a UV light, which will help the body function properly and aids in reducing pain and stiffness.
- Reduce alcohol intake – alcohol causes blood vessels to dilate, resulting in heat loss. Instead try herbal teas to warm up and relax your body.
- Stay motivated – it can be difficult to motivate yourself in the darker shorter winter days, but it is important to keep up your motivation.
Reducing your chronic pain is important year-round, but it can be particularly difficult to do in the winter months. These tips can help you control your chronic pain in cold weather but remember to consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise routine and do not over exert yourself.
If you are suffering from fibromyalgia, CRPS, or any chronic pain condition as a result of an accident that was not your fault, and even if you have an existing claim, get in touch with Brian Barr Solicitors to see if we can assist. It is simple and hassle free to move your claim to Brian Barr Solicitors who are experts in dealing with chronic pain litigation. Call us today on 0161 737 9248 or visit our website (www.brianbarr.co.uk) to find out more.