Chair, Chronic Pain Ireland
The onset of winter can exacerbate the challenges for people living with chronic pain, which is pain — regardless of the condition — that persists for more than three months.
Although chronic pain issues can escalate in the wintertime, there are several management approaches that can help make the season more bearable and comfortable.
Moving helps chronic pain
As the cold and dark days roll in, it’s understandable to want to hibernate at home more. For people with chronic pain, movement can be an important tool in lessening the impact and experience of pain. It’s a natural inclination to want to move less when we feel pain.
However, with months or years of persistent pain, if we move less and less, our bodies become deconditioned. This can lead to a vicious cycle where we feel pain, gradually move less and, in parallel, our pain increases.
Experiment for enjoyment
Movement does not have to mean ‘exercise,’ and it can be as little as you feel you can manage on a particular day. Start small and congratulate yourself for making the effort, regardless of how much or how little you accomplish each day. Experiment to find a way of moving your body that you enjoy. For many, this may be walking, swimming or strength training. Find what works for you.
Movement does not have to mean ‘exercise,’
and it can be as little as you feel you can
manage on a particular day.
Connecting with community
People with chronic pain often describe feeling isolated, and this may worsen in the winter months. This often happens if pain interferes with a person’s ability to keep a job or take part in sports and social activities. If you don’t know how or when pain will strike, it can be difficult to commit to social events. However, getting out and meeting people can help with your quality of life, and this can help to lessen your experience of pain.
Seeking help for chronic pain
People living with chronic pain need support, especially in the winter months. A multidimensional approach to pain management and recovery is needed including interventions that help reduce or manage pain, increase functionality and enhance quality of life.
Chronic Pain Ireland (CPI) offers a range of supports including self-management workshops, a telephone support line, patient and public involvement (PPI) research partnerships, meetings and public awareness events.