Managing Winter Weather and EDS Symptoms
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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