CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — Winter can be an especially difficult time for people living with chronic pain. Cold weather and reduced sunlight make it more difficult to stay active, leading to tight muscles and sore joints.
Dr. Rachel Allen, a pain management physician and anesthesiologist with Desert Pain Specialists, seeks to empower patients to take charge of their pain management journey even through the added challenges of the winter months.
“Everything is a cycle,” she said. “Hang in there.”
Bundle up before heading out
Muscles and joints don’t function as fluidly as they should when you’re cold, Allen said. Chronic pain management during the winter starts with wearing enough layers to ensure your body always stays warm.
“Keeping warm is such an important part of protecting your skin and joints,” she said. “Increased blood flow means increased nutrients. Increased nutrients means happier and healthier tissues.”
When it comes to aching body parts in wintertime, warmth is your friend, Allen said, adding that heat is quite possibly the most universal pain treatment method. Try heating pads, hot water bottles, microwaveable warmers and hand warmers that can slip into a pocket. When you’re out and about, preheat your car and use the heated seat feature if available.
Although many people struggle to stay active when it’s cold, Allen said that winter is actually the most crucial time of year to keep exercising in order to prevent further pain. She recommends practicing light yoga, stretching, swimming in a heated pool and walking. Whether it’s outdoors, on a treadmill or even through the mall, any kind of movement is good.
Allen advises her patients to try massage therapy to help relax muscles. Other suggestions include making sure you are wearing proper shoes with good tread, especially when it’s slippery out. And always listen to your body while stretching and exercising.
“Your body will let you know what it needs and where your limits are,” she said. “It doesn’t need to be painful. We don’t want anything to be painful.”
Maintain a healthy sleep schedule
Allen said that medical science has established a direct correlation between sleep and the ability to process pain and emotion. Without enough rest, the body can’t heal and repair itself as intended. Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule also helps improve mood.
“Chronic pain can be so hard to live with day in and day out,” she said. “If we don’t have the reserves to constantly battle it and achieve some of those reserves through our sleep, pain becomes worse.”
Research also identifies a link between low levels of vitamin D and increased pain, Allen said. People are at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency during the winter, when days are shorter. She recommends patients talk to their primary care physician about a vitamin D supplementation if it’s right for them.
Focus on proper nutrition and a health lifestyle
Nutrition plays a key role in pain management, Allen said. Maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle can improve movement and enhance overall quality of life.
“Anything we put in our mouth can be used for us or against us,” she said. “It’s extremely important to approach it from a functional standpoint.”
Allen said the body needs the nutrients found in seeds, fish and lean meats. Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins A, C and D. Together, these are the building blocks of healthy tissue that can help repair muscles, bones and nerves. Hydration is also crucial.
The board-certified physicians at Desert Pain strive to improve patient quality of life through innovative pain management solutions. They treat all types of acute and chronic pain including back pain, neck pain, sciatica, neuropathy, migraines and sports injuries.
Allen said she understands that living with chronic pain can be a daily battle. At Desert Pain, patients aren’t just “treated”; they are seen, heard, understood and supported throughout their pain management journey.
“We’re there for you. We’re your teammates,” she said. “We want to figuratively – and quite literally – have your back.”
About Desert Pain Specialists
Desert Pain Specialists is Southern Utah’s premier interventional pain management team. The doctors and the entire staff are dedicated to helping patients find relief from their pain. Their state-of-the-art facility in St. George allows them to offer unmatched quality of care for their patients.
Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.
• S P O N S O R E D C O N T E N T •
- Desert Pain Specialists | Telephone: 435-216-7000 | Email: [email protected] | Website.
- St. George: 617 E. Riverside Drive, Suite 301.
- Hurricane: 48 S. 2500 West, Suite 110.
- Cedar City: 1760 N. Main St.
- Beaver: 68 N. Main St.
- Panguitch: 200 N. 400 East.
- Kanab: 460 E. 300 South, Suite 4.
- Mesquite, Nevada: 340 Falcon Ridge Parkway, Suite 600.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.