As the vibrant hues of summer begin to fade into the warm colours of autumn, many of us eagerly welcome the shorter days and the new season. However, for people dealing with chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia, or indeed FND, the transition to autumn can bring its own set of challenges.
At Brian Barr we understand the unique struggles faced by those with chronic pain and critical illnesses and appreciate how the changing seasons, particularly autumn, can impact fibromyalgia and chronic pain.
1. Temperature variations:
Autumn is known for its fluctuating temperatures, with cooler mornings and evenings. For individuals with fibromyalgia and chronic pain, these variations can exacerbate discomfort. Cold weather can cause muscles to tense up and increase stiffness, leading to heightened pain levels. It’s important to dress warmly and consider using heat therapy to ease muscle tension.
2. Decreased sunlight:
With the days getting shorter and less sunlight, some people may experience a dip in mood this season. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can worsen feelings of depression and anxiety, which are often co-occurring conditions with chronic pain. Maintaining a healthy routine, staying active, and seeking emotional support can help mitigate these effects.
3. Barometric pressure changes:
Autumn is associated with shifts in barometric pressure, which can trigger pain flare-ups for individuals with fibromyalgia. This sensitivity to pressure changes can result in increased joint and muscle pain. Staying well-hydrated, practicing relaxation techniques, and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule can help manage these symptoms.
4. Reduced physical activity:
As the weather cools down, people often become less active, wanting to stay home more, which can lead to stiffness and decreased mobility. It’s essential for individuals with chronic pain to maintain a regular exercise routine tailored to their abilities. Gentle stretching and low-impact exercises can help prevent muscle tightness and reduce pain.
5. Increased stress:
The transition to autumn often coincides with the return to school or work routines and the anticipation of the holiday season coupled with financial worries. Stress can exacerbate chronic pain symptoms. Employing stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, or counselling can be particularly beneficial during this time.
6. Dietary considerations:
Autumn is synonymous with comfort foods and holiday feasting, but for those with chronic pain, certain foods may trigger inflammation and pain. It’s essential to maintain a balanced diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, while limiting processed and sugary foods.
7. Adequate sleep:
With the clocks changing in October, some individuals may struggle with disrupted sleep patterns. Sleep is the best medicine and poor sleep can worsen chronic pain symptoms. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and creating a sleep-conducive environment can help ensure restorative rest.
It’s crucial to recognise the unique challenges autumn and winter pose for individuals living with fibromyalgia, FND, and chronic pain conditions. By acknowledging these seasonal impacts and taking proactive steps to manage them, you can strive for a more comfortable and pain-aware transition into the new season.