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How Cooler Weather Affects Chronic Pain

How Cooler Weather Affects Chronic Pain

Allison Walsh,

Personal experiences

There’s not a lot of scientific evidence showing a correlation between season changes and chronic pain, but patient experiences tell a different story.

Some patients with chronic joint pain, for example, can predict changes in the weather based on how their joints are feeling.

I’ve learned from many people on our Facebook page and in our forums that damp or cold weather worsens their low back pain and neck pain. Others with fibromyalgia have mentioned that the cold, damp weather worsened their symptoms.

Patients with osteoarthritis have mentioned that the swelling and warmth in one or more of their joints worsens during weather changes.


Add your own heat

If the cold makes your pain worse, try incorporating heat therapy into your daily routine. Heat therapy decreases stiffness and promotes healing through increased circulation.

Here are a few ideas for adding heat to your routine:


  • Apply a hot pack, warm towel or heating pad to the painful area. Simply doing this for 20 minutes at a time may be enough for temporary pain relief.


  • Use over the counter heat wraps. Available in most grocery stores/pharmacies, heat wraps can provide warmth for joint-related back pain and other symptoms for up to 8 hours at a time.


  • Try water therapy. You may experience pain relief by swimming in a heated indoor pool a few times per week, or by soaking a whirlpool or hot bath.


  • Stay active. It can be tempting to hibernate during cold weather, but inactivity can actually increase some types of pain. If you prefer to stay inside, consider purchasing a treadmill, so you can walk while you catch the evening news.


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