As the days grow shorter and temperatures drop, winter’s arrival brings with it a myriad of seasonal changes. Alongside the scenic landscapes coated in snow… oh wait, we live in the desert! We’ll stick with classifying the winter season as chilling temperatures, snow bird flocks, and cheerful festivities. Parallel to these winter changes, the colder months can also intensify the sensation of pain for those recovering from injuries; you may develop a cold sensitivity. It’s a phenomenon experienced by many, and while it might seem perplexing at first, several factors contribute to why injuries tend to feel more painful during the winter season- you are not alone!
Let’s Look At Why!
- Temperature/Cold Sensitivity: Our bodies, especially injured areas, are sensitive to changes in temperature. During winter, when the air is colder, our muscles tend to contract, leading to stiffness and reduced flexibility. This constriction can aggravate the pain from an injury as movement becomes more challenging and the affected area feels tighter.
- If you have a plate, screws, or other hardware, that area may have a greater cold sensitivity.
- Reduced Blood Circulation: Cold weather causes blood vessels to constrict as the body works to conserve heat. This reduced circulation means that injured areas receive less blood flow, leading to a decreased supply of oxygen and nutrients essential for healing. As a result, the healing process may slow down, and the sensation of pain can increase.
- Barometric Pressure Changes: Winter often brings fluctuations in barometric pressure, which can impact our bodies. For those with injuries, particularly joint-related issues, changes in pressure can lead to increased pain perception. The drop in pressure can cause tissues to expand, putting pressure on nerves and causing discomfort.
- Activity Level and Seasonal Changes: Winter tends to restrict outdoor physical activities due to icy conditions (if you are up north) or reluctance to venture out in the cold. This reduction in movement and activity levels can lead to stiffness and muscle atrophy around the injured area, intensifying the sensation of pain.
- Psychological Impact: Darker, colder days can also have an impact on our mental well-being. Negative emotions and stress can amplify pain signals, making the experience of injury recovery more uncomfortable.
So, how can one mitigate the increased cold sensitivity during winter while recovering from an injury?
- Stay Warm: Keeping the affected area warm through proper clothing, heating pads, or warm baths can help relax muscles and improve circulation.
- Maintain Physical Activity: Within reasonable limits and with guidance from a healthcare professional, engaging in indoor or outdoor exercises and your home exercise program can prevent stiffness and maintain flexibility! In other words, do your homework!
In conclusion, the correlation between winter and increased pain during injury recovery is multifaceted. Understanding the various factors contributing to heightened discomfort and cold sensitivity can empower individuals to take proactive measures to ease their recovery process during the colder months. By staying mindful of these influences and adopting appropriate strategies, one can navigate the winter season with greater comfort and an improved healing experience. For specific tips, tricks, and advice- schedule an appointment with our certified therapists now! We can’t wait to see you in the office!