Ways to manage pain for a comfortable winter

21 February 2022

Meghan Taylor is a self-employed freelance writer who specialises in healthcare writing for all ages. Here, she talks about how people with multiple sclerosis can manage pain during the colder months.

For many people who are living with MS, the onset of winter is synonymous with a sensitivity to the cold and the pain that comes with it. It is a time that many people living with MS dread, looking not only for ways to keep warm but also ways to deal with the pain that comes hand in hand with the cold.

When we talk about pain relief, the most common response is to reach for medication, but this is not your only option. Here are seven ways that you can help to manage the pain that you can feel as a result of the cold this winter.

1. Keep warm

It might seem like the obvious solution, but one way that you can help to prevent pain as a result of getting cold is to keep yourself warm. By wrapping up warm, you can keep yourself cosy and begin to reduce the cold that you feel. Many people who are living with MS also suffer from getting overheated, so try using several layers so that you can take them off or add them on according to how you are feeling.

2. Gentle exercise

Getting moving in any form can help to warm you up. Whether it’s going for a walk, dancing in your living room, or something more strenuous, just moving in whatever way is easiest for you is a great way to help to relieve pain from the cold.

In addition to the sensitivity that you might be feeling as a result of your MS, the cold can cause inflammation and stiffness which can also lead to pain. By moving around as much as possible you can help to remedy this. 

3. Sleep

Sleeping is important for everyone, and if you are living with MS, it is important that you try to get enough rest. It is not always easy to sleep, but a lack of sleep can certainly make the feeling of pain worse. Try to ensure that you are getting plenty of rest and consider using relaxation and breathing techniques to help you to sleep if you are having problems.

4. Mind-body techniques

Mind-body techniques such as yoga, mindfulness, and meditation, and tai-chi team the mind and the physical body together, exercising physically and mentally.

5. Music

In addition to helping you to dance, music can also have other benefits in terms of pain relief. It has been proven that listening to pleasant music can help to release dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical that can be useful in dealing with pain.

6. Massage

Massage can be useful when managing muscular pain. However, you should take care in identifying which type of pain you are experiencing first as massage may not be helpful or comfortable for nerve pain. When used in combination with relaxation techniques or aromatherapy, massage can help general wellbeing.

7. Speak to your MS Team

If your MS symptoms worsen when it is cold, you may find that a combination of these suggestions is effective for you. Any new or worsening symptoms should be discussed with your MS team, to rule out other causes. Your MS team may have other suggestions to help you manage the cold.

Find out more

  • Pain - information from the MS Trust
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