Cold Season Pain? How to Manage during the winter months.

What is Musculoskeletal (MSK) Pain?

First, it’s important to understand what musculoskeletal pain is. MSK pain can be described as acute or chronic pain that affects muscles, connective tissue, and nerves. MSK pain is a common condition worldwide that results in a significant impact on individuals’ function and quality of life. Most people experience some sort of MSK pain in their lifetime and when the weather turns cold it may be more severe.

How to manage aches and pains during the winter:

The primary goal in managing pain is to maximize function and the quality of life, not necessarily to eliminate pain altogether. Some ongoing pain is normal and not indicative of a serious problem. Let’s start off by outlining some of the basics for managing and preventing MSK pain;

  • Stay active

  • Avoid food allergens

  • Take part in therapeutic contrast showers

  • Seek out massage/myofascial therapy

  • Work with a specialist on Spinal Manipulations

Stay Active:

It can be challenging to remain active when the weather is cold and while in pain. Make a plan that is realistic for you when it comes to exercising and staying active. No amount is too small, you can start off with 15 minutes of exercise and increase from there if you see fit. If you missed a day, it’s ok, be forgiving with yourself as you go through this process and remember to enjoy it along way.


Here are some tasks you can complete around your house that will help you stay active!

  • Vacuuming, mopping, cleaning, etc

  • Dancing while listening to music (which will also simultaneously calm your nervous system)

  • Use resistance bands while watching tv

  • Go for a walk out in nature after work

  • Attend a workout class such as cycling, yoga, pilates

Remember it’s always good to invite someone to join you; having a partner to do things with you is a great motivator.


Avoid Food allergies/sensitivities:

Food sensitivities can cause inflammatory responses in the body and further aggravate your aches and pain.

Common food allergens include:

  • Milk, eggs, fish, wheat, tree nuts, peanuts, soybeans, and shellfish. Food sensitivities may present with variable or limited symptoms. Your healthcare provider will help you decide if food allergy elimination will help to reduce inflammation.

Another less commonly known marker for inflammation is sugar and can be disguised on food product labels in many ways. Here are some of the hidden sugar names. Syrup, glucose, fructose & dextrose. Consider substituting food with natural sugars or reduce sugar intake in general.

Therapeutic Contrast Shower:

The contrast shower is a simple and convenient way to stimulate vitality, promote circulation, as well as treat generalized areas of pain and soreness.


The idea is simple:

Step 1: Shower in hot water for 3-5 minutes

Step 2: Shower in cold water for 30-60 seconds

Step 3: Alternate step 1 & step 2, three times

  • Make sure to always end with cold water

This temperature contrast helps strengthen and normalize the nervous, circulatory, endocrine (hormonal), musculoskeletal and immune systems and is excellent for helping the body cope with physiological and psychological stress.


Massage/Myofascial therapy:

Massage and adjacent therapies like myofascial release are useful tools to deal with aches/pains. Massages/myofascial release can help with relaxing muscle tension, improving circulation, detoxifying the body through the movement of lymph, and removing restricted fascial structure that can cause painful rubbing or dysfunction throughout the body.


To support yourself with myofascial therapy at home, after proper guidance from your healthcare practitioner, foam rolling, or yoga.


Spinal Manipulation:

Having proper spinal alignment can help relieve pain by removing restrictions to motions that may be pinching nerves, muscles, or other soft tissues. Your body has the ability to heal from pain, you just have to give it the right environment to do so. Here at Negre Marron Wellness we can be that environment for you.


References:

  1. Hayes, K.W. Manual for Physical Agents, 4th ed. 1993. Norwalk, CT. Appleton & Lange. Pp. ix, 169.

  2. Lindlahr, H. and Poesnecker, G.E. Nature Cure 2000: Philosophy and Practice Based on the Unity of Disease and Cure. 1998. Quakertown, PA. Beverly Hall Corp. Pp. xxii, 360.

  3. Naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Natural Medicines Database - Anti Inflammatory Diet. 2015. Available at: https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=1294#background.

Disclaimer:

  • This article is for general informational purposes only. This content should not be used as medical advice. It is important to understand pain is a complex subject that requires a thorough assessment from a doctor. Please seek professional advice from one of our doctors at Negre Marron Wellness (NMW) or providers who specialize in pain management for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.


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