How cold weather affects Fibromyalgia
Those living with fibromyalgia often cite the winter as the worst time for their symptoms. While summer storms can cause flare-ups, more fibro sufferers complain about cold weather pains than any other single factor. Why does cold weather play a significant role in symptom aggravation? Is there anything you can do to mitigate the effect winter has on chronic pain?
Even people without fibromyalgia complain about the cold. Most modern science points to blood flow as the primary reason people have a hard time dealing with extreme temperatures. The same science may be applicable to those with fibro symptoms. According to a recent study, people living with fibromyalgia may have an abundance of sensory nerves in certain areas of their circulatory system. These extra bundles can increase sensitivity, particularly when cold temperatures are part of the equation. Because they also create an environment for irregular blood flow, it may be more difficult for fibro patients to regulate their internal temperature.
Arterioles and Venules
Arteriole-venule shunts, the primary valves responsible for healthy connection between your body’s arteriole and venule blood vessels, are guided in their function by specialized nerves. According to the blood flow, those with fibromyalgia have extra nerves running to the shunts. Because of the increased sensory input, fibro sufferers may experience a higher level of pain due to external stimuli. Cold weather, of course, is one of the biggest external factors when it comes to stimulating those nerves. If these extra nerves are everywhere, it could be key in explaining why fibro patients experience increased pain.
Older studies have already shown that people with fibromyalgia have a difficult time staying within homeostasis. In a normal autonomic nervous system, the body is able to easily regulate automatic functions such as digestion and body temperature. In the fibro sufferer, however, this regulation is thrown off balance. Patients who want to keep themselves regulated must therefore take precautions when dealing with extreme temperatures.
Guarding Against the Cold
The best way to guard against the cold is to take proactive measures. Don’t wait until you’re freezing to bundle up. By monitoring the weather, you’ll be able to prepare yourself in advance. Keep your feet and hands covered during the winter as it can be difficult for your system to move blood flow to the extremities. Dress warmly without overdoing it. Incorporate hot foods like soup into your winter diet. The more steps you take in advance, the better you’ll be able to weather the flare-ups.