Managing Winter Weather and EDS Symptoms

Managing Winter Weather and EDS Symptoms
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Being back to work at school after the holiday is both exciting and a little depressing. I mostly did farm work while I was off. One of the most refreshing things about doing farm work is that life feels normal for a few minutes when I’m outdoors doing chores and not wearing a mask. I know that’s just an illusion.

As the weather gets colder, I find that my Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) improves in some ways and worsens in others. While I prefer the temperate climates of spring and fall, if I had to pick an extreme temperature, I would choose cold weather. I get tired much more easily when it’s hot outside. On the flip side, I typically find winter weather to be somewhat invigorating.

Cold weather sometimes leads to less joint pain, which I find a bit unusual. Most of the time when I hear about joint issues, people say they become worse in cold weather. While I’m not officially diagnosed with arthritis, physical therapists have told me they suspect I already have some arthritis, especially in my knees, from walking incorrectly for so long.

I wonder if my high activity level helps to alleviate some of those side effects of the cold. The time of year doesn’t change everything needed to keep a farm full of animals cared for and content. If anything, extreme temperatures add more chores rather than fewer. I often talk about how activity helps me manage my pain levels, so this seems like a logical theory.

Where I find that cold weather makes my EDS worse is with muscle tightness. It’s natural that when a person gets cold, they tend to get tense, and that seems to be exacerbated by my EDS. When I get tight and tense from the cold, it doesn’t go away when I go indoors to warm up. Rather, it seems to create further tightness and send me down a path to severe muscle pain if I’m not careful.

I’ve never been one to complain about the cold, and I used to go outdoors in minimal gear. That was before I was diagnosed with EDS. I’m pretty sure I was tight and managing chronic pain at the time, so the cold probably didn’t have a noticeable effect on me. But in the past few years, as I’ve worked through massage therapy and Pilates to help me realign my body, I’ve noticed that the cold can cause problems.

As a result, I now make sure to wear several layers of clothing, and I keep myself warm. Simply staying warm and remaining active tends to work well for me in managing winter weather!

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Note: Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.

An avid equestrian and educator, Karen has been a columnist at BioNews — the publisher of this site — since 2019. She was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome in 2009 after years of searching for a diagnosis that explained her symptoms. Karen enjoys working with her students, riding and caring for her two horses (Cherry and Spotty), and connecting with others in the rare disease community through her writing.
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An avid equestrian and educator, Karen has been a columnist at BioNews — the publisher of this site — since 2019. She was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome in 2009 after years of searching for a diagnosis that explained her symptoms. Karen enjoys working with her students, riding and caring for her two horses (Cherry and Spotty), and connecting with others in the rare disease community through her writing.
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