Wednesday, December 17, 2008

CRPS - Weather changes, do they affect CRPS? RSD?


Now that the winter season is upon us, for most of the country anyway, many patients are seeing changes in their pain although quite a few may not have ever made the connection. In talking to patients I often run into some who do not know that the changes in the seasons cause changes in their pain. They might have noticed that they get colder in the winter, that storms bother them, etc. but did not understand that there is the direct connection.

Barometric changes, especially drops in the BP, can cause increased pain for many patients. These can come from violent storms such as hurricanes and thunderstorms but they can also come with snowstorms and changes in the highs and lows you hear the weatherman describing all the time. 

When you watch the weather next time, pay particular attention to when the next Low Pressure system is moving in and monitor your pain. See if you notice any changes/increases in your pain. Chances are that you will.

The other issue that CRPS patients face in the winter months, especially those who live in the colder, wintry states, is dealing with the extra pain that comes with the extreme cold. 

One of the ways that CRPS patients suffer pain, (and I realize this is oversimplifying things) is from constricted blood vessels. These constricted blood vessels not only cause pain but also restrict blood flow thereby lowering the temperature of the extremities.  When the temperature drops these blood vessels constrict further, increasing the pain and lowering the temperature even further. 

The patient ends up in more pain and an inability to get their feet/hands warm. 

So what do you do, to decrease the pain and effects of the winter?

Well, you could do what I did, move south! It is nearly Christmas and it is 70+ degrees here. But that isn't practical for most people so you need other solutions.

- Layered clothing helps, and definitely you need to keep your hands and feet and head covered as much as possible. 

- If you have access to a warm water pool (85 degrees of more) that is EXTREMELY helpful, not only for raising the temperature in your extremities but also for keeping the chronic pain patient's body in shape and lowering their overall pain level. 

- Soaking in warm water with Epsom Salts is very beneficial. You don't need fancy bath salts/oils but by using epsom salts your body absorbs the magnesium, which helps in restoring normal blood flow. 

- Using microwave moist-heating pads (the kind with beads inside) helps as well. 

What ideas have you tried that have helped? Share them here in the comments!

Have a great day everyone!

Peace, Keith

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