8 Tips I’ve Learned for Living With Chronic Pain in Winter


I remember as a kid being so excited for the winter and holiday season. I remember dreaming of snow, trips to the mountain to snowboard, snow angels, snowball fights and every other clichéd winter activity.

But these days, I dread the transition from fall to winter.

Living with chronic pain and early arthritis due to femoral acetabular impingement (FAI) is a daily battle. Some days are better than others, and some seasons are better than others. Fall and winter are almost always the worst months each year. My Raynaud’s disease only furthers the dread of the cold.

As the temperature drops, my pain skyrockets. It seems like every day the constant ache in my hips compounds. I’m never warm because the cold penetrates my bones and finds a home in my injury-laden hips. The cold locks up my joints and threatens to keep me immobile. Cold weather means stiffness and stiffness means additional pain. Sleeping requires four or more blankets and warm pajamas, but staying warm at night is still a struggle. I lie in bed for hours trying desperately to find a position that will allow me to fall asleep.

Over the last few years, I’ve managed to find a few things that can help ease the ache of the cold and chronic pain. These tips have helped me cope, and hopefully, you’ll find something applicable and useful for you.

1. Buy hand/feet warmers in bulk from Costco.

A must-have. Keep your hands and feet warm or use as mini hot packs on any area!

2. Buy a down comforter.

This is another must-have for me. It’s worth the money to keep me warmer at night.

3. Dress appropriately.

Never underestimate the power of layers! Investing in warm jackets as well as thermals and other cold-weather clothing.

4. Keep moving and exercise indoors.

Depending upon your situation, exercise and movement can help fight some chronic pain. Swimming is a great low-impact exercise, and the added bonus of a heated pool during winter is perfect for pain relief. Warm baths and hot tubs are a great alternative if exercise isn’t an option.

5. Vitamin D.

Talk to your doctor about your vitamin D levels. Winter can mean a decrease in natural sources of vitamin D, which can be a factor to sensitivity to arthritis pain as well as a contributing factor to osteoporosis.

6. Heated seats are lifesavers

If you can afford the luxury of a car with heated seats, it’s completely worth it, especially for hip injuries and/or pain.

7. Keep the house warm.

If you can afford it, keep the house nice and toasty to keep you as warm as possible at home.

8. Seek support.

Living with chronic pain is difficult, and winter weather can only add to the difficulty. Seek support from friends, family or professionals to help you cope.

Remember, the cold won’t last forever. 

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Lead photo by Thinkstock Images


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