Fibromyalgia

Why are my fibromyalgia symptoms worse during winters?

AUTHOR
Doris Ward
REVIEWED BY
Kedar Angirus, MD
April 19, 2022

Why do I struggle with my Fibromyalgia symptoms like headaches, pain, and fatigue more during the winter months?

If you find yourself asking this, you aren’t alone.

In my personal journey living with fibromyalgia, I have experienced more pronounced symptoms during the cold winters in Prince Edward Island, Canada. This has caused more physical and mental stress and I have to be more mindful with my pacing so I can continue to work and enjoy life the way I wish to.

I have found it to be quite helpful to track my symptoms daily in a way that is categorized so I can look back over a period of time and easily determine any patterns or trends. I’ve been very diligent in using a journal to track my pain levels, eating habits, activity for the day, sleep, caffeine intake and so much more. Not only has this been helpful to pinpoint patterns but it also improves body awareness, autonomy and makes me feel empowered with information when I do get an appointment with my doctor and/or specialist. My experience with fibromyalgia has been a long but manageable one. The winter months do increase my muscle tension and stiffness but I present the following information for you to consider to help ease these symptoms especially during the colder months.

As many as 4 million Americans — 80 to 90% of them are women — have Fibromyalgia, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women’s Health. 1

Symptoms such as headaches and fatigue are exacerbated in colder temperatures and the shorter darker days marked by the winter season. The changes in barometric pressure also contribute to symptoms being more prevalent in the wintertime.

Have you noticed that when your muscles get cold they tighten up by contracting?

This can cause them to spasm and worsen Fibromyalgia pain. There are ways to manage this.

Dress for the weather the best you can. Bundling up in layers is key. Sweat-wicking materials closest to your skin are the best for the first layer and then layer other clothing on top.

Be a weather watcher to plan ahead so you can manage your schedule with the most optimal weather to minimize your exposure to the cold.

At night time, have a warm bath, use heat packs, or hot compresses. This not only relaxes your muscles but can also lower stress levels too which we can all benefit from.

Activity:

To further reduce the risk of a Fibromyalgia flare-up during the winter months, for the next 2 weeks we invite you to try one of the following techniques to lower stress. Studies show that stress is a major contributor to aggravating symptoms. It’s been proven that techniques such as deep breathing and mindful meditation are effective at lowering stress levels. Try one of these daily for the next 2 weeks and note how you feel before and after each attempt.

Mindful Meditation:

1. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Typically eyes closed.
2. Center your breath by bringing attention to it.
3. Quietly concentrate on your thoughts without passing judgment on them.
4. Repeat for time. 5-10 minutes.

Deep Breathing:

Get comfortable. You can choose a seated or lying down position.
Keep a gentle bend in your knees whether seated or lying down.
Place one hand on your upper chest and the other on your belly.
Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Do this slowly, and feel your belly rise & expand with each inhalation and lower with each exhalation. Your chest should remain mostly still. The key is to get the breath flowing through your gut, not your chest.
Continue for a few minutes (up to ten).

Here at Anooka Health, we know pain. Our experts want to help with your Fibromyalgia symptoms. Do you have a question for our experts? Click here to reach out for a free 15-minute call to get your questions answered.

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