Cold weather hits fibromyalgia sufferers hard

January 31, 2014 by Keith Herrell

Cold temperatures, such as those gripping the Midwest over the past week, are tough on everybody. But for individuals with fibromyalgia, whose symptoms include chronic, widespread pain, the big freeze is especially difficult to endure.

"It is very common for individuals with fibromyalgia to report worsening of with the ," says Lesley Arnold, MD, a UC Health doctor who specializes in fibromyalgia and is director of the Women's Health Research Program at the University of Cincinnati (UC), where she is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience.

"One possible explanation is that cold weather keeps many people less active, leading to physical de-conditioning that can contribute to more pain. In addition, in individuals with fibromyalgia who also have arthritis, cold weather can contribute to stiffness around the joints which can increase the overall pain experience.

"A drop in barometric pressure may also increase joint swelling, which can exacerbate pain," Arnold adds, referring to the atmospheric pressure drop that typically precedes rain or storms.

In addition to chronic, widespread pain, fibromyalgia is characterized by other symptoms including fatigue, sleep disturbance and cognitive symptoms such as forgetfulness or decreased concentration. It has a prevalence of about 2 percent of the of the U.S. population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is about seven times more common in women than in men.

Scientific evidence for a strong weather-pain association in fibromyalgia is very limited, notes Arnold, who conducts fibromyalgia-related research at UC, and the available evidence does not support a uniform influence of specific weather conditions on daily symptoms of pain in patients with fibromyalgia. But from patients' accounts, she says, some individuals seem to be more sensitive to weather conditions or weather changes than others.

To help manage during cold weather, Arnold says, it is important for individuals to stay as active as possible and to dress warmly in layers. Keeping the body moving with a physical activity plan developed under the supervision of health care providers may prevent pain from getting worse.

"Cold weather can also disrupt social activities, so it is important to reach out to others during these cold days," says Arnold. "Our mood can affect the pain experience, with depression making it more difficult to cope with a chronic pain disorder like fibromyalgia."

Arnold says the UC Health fibromyalgia treatment program is dedicated to using the latest scientifically proven treatments to alleviate the often debilitating symptoms of fibromyalgia and to help those with chronic pain disorders live more functional lives.

"We work with patients to develop an appropriate, individualized treatment plan that may include medications, therapy and/or recommended lifestyle changes," she says. "These options have been well studied and scientifically proven to help with and related disorders."

Explore further: Weather conditions do not affect fibromyalgia pain or fatigue

Related Stories

Weather conditions do not affect fibromyalgia pain or fatigue

June 4, 2013
Dutch researchers report that weather conditions including temperature, sunshine, and precipitation have no impact on fibromyalgia symptoms in female patients. Results published in Arthritis Care & Research, a journal of ...

Pleasure and pain brain signals disrupted in fibromyalgia patients

November 5, 2013
New research indicates that a disruption of brain signals for reward and punishment contributes to increased pain sensitivity, known as hyperalgesia, in fibromyalgia patients. Results published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, ...

Fatigue not a factor in fibromyalgia pain, study says

April 26, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Poor sleep is not a significant predictor of pain intensity and duration in patients with fibromyalgia, a new study says.

Brain imaging reveals dynamic changes caused by pain medicines

November 19, 2013
A study in the December issue of Anesthesiology suggests a role for brain imaging in the assessment and potential treatment of chronic pain.

Vitamin D supplements reduce pain in fibromyalgia sufferers

January 17, 2014
Patients with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) typically have widespread chronic pain and fatigue. For those with low vitamin D levels, vitamin D supplements can reduce pain and may be a cost-effective alternative or adjunct to ...

Lyrica may ease pain for depressed fibromyalgia patients

October 28, 2013
(HealthDay)—Fibromyalgia and depression often go hand in hand, and a new study finds that the drug Lyrica helps ease pain in patients being treated for both conditions.

Recommended for you

Researchers report new system to study chronic hepatitis B

July 25, 2017
Scientists from Princeton University's Department of Molecular Biology have successfully tested a cell-culture system that will allow researchers to perform laboratory-based studies of long-term hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections. ...

Research examines lung cell turnover as risk factor and target for treatment of influenza pneumonia

July 24, 2017
Influenza is a recurring global health threat that, according to the World Health Organization, is responsible for as many as 500,000 deaths every year, most due to influenza pneumonia, or viral pneumonia. Infection with ...

Scientists propose novel therapy to lessen risk of obesity-linked disease

July 24, 2017
With obesity related illnesses a global pandemic, researchers propose in the Journal of Clinical Investigation using a blood thinner to target molecular drivers of chronic metabolic inflammation in people eating high-fat ...

Raccoon roundworm—a hidden human parasite?

July 24, 2017
The raccoon that topples your trashcan and pillages your garden may leave more than just a mess. More likely than not, it also contaminates your yard with parasites—most notably, raccoon roundworms (Baylisascaris procyonis).

Google searches can be used to track dengue in underdeveloped countries

July 20, 2017
An analytical tool that combines Google search data with government-provided clinical data can quickly and accurately track dengue fever in less-developed countries, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered

July 19, 2017
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published in the open access journal Genome Biology. It was ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

chiefsfan37
1 / 5 (2) Jan 31, 2014
This time of the year is hard for all of us sufferers, but I have found something that works. I did a lot of google searches and asked a lot of questions, but I was able to locate A&R Pharmacy and get on the path to prescription topical pain relief. No pills or side effects; just pain relief.
Best decision I ever made.
Ratfish
5 / 5 (1) Jan 31, 2014
^Are you sure that becoming a shill for that company wasn't a better decision?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.