Fibromyalgia: The Temperature Extremist

Just this morning, I read an interesting article surrounding the correlation between temperature and fibromyalgia. First of all, it makes me happy to continue and see articles, research, and attention around fibromyalgia. This chronic disease is still inching its way into being accepted by society and the medical community. Thankfully, most doctors now agree with the research and will properly diagnose fibromyalgia. But as most things, there is still a niche within that world that have not caught on. My hope is that emerging research, and continuous attention from the media will help fibromyalgia sufferers speak out and get the treatment they do deserve. Not unlike myself, most fibromyalgia sufferers have another chronic disease under their belts. For me, it’s Ankylosing Spondylitis, Fibromyalgia, Depression, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. For others it could be Crohn’s, or a different type of arthritis, or many, many others. Addressing the group as a whole, or addressing one at a time helps to control and better the quality of life for all of us.

post_3b218d5a5f1d46188264f89b6e9ee94b_635178919558248000The article I mentioned above came from the blog, Counting My Spoons: Inspired Living with Chronic Illness. The study mentioned within the post originated from Smith, et al: Smith, B. W., Tooley, E. M., Montague, E. Q., Robinson, A. E., Cosper, C. J., & Mullins, P. G. (2008). Habituation and sensitization to heat and cold pain in women with fibromyalgia and healthy controls. Pain140420-428. doi:10.1016/j.pain.2008.09.018.

Personally, temperature and weather are probably the most influential environmental factors to the symptoms of my fibromyalgia. On days where the weather is grey, cold, and/or rainy, my fibromyalgia is in a flare and feels terrible. Another factor is when the weather changes so drastically from day to day or day to night. I can only confidently speak for myself, but I have heard this to be a common symptom for a number of fibromyalgia sufferers.

images-6Anyway, back to the study. The study talks about sensation and habituation. Habituation basically means getting used to something. When you have an itch, or something in your shoe is poking you, most people don’t notice it after a little while. However, people with fibromyalgia seem to be missing that ability of habituation and actually, the thing that is bugging you, that sensation, increases with fibromyalgia. This is called Temporal Summation, which may play an important role in chronic pain.

The study aimed to prove that an increase in temperature produced an increase in pain for women who suffer from fibromyalgia. Researchers tested the participants pain levels, and then increased the temperature by 5 degrees each trial until pain was reported.

At the end of the trials, the study actually found that there was a correlation between fibromyalgia symptoms and heat or cold. In other words, when pain, fatigue, anxiety, and depression were present, the participants ability to tolerate heat decreases. With cold temperatures, participants with fibromyalgia reported pain at 10 degree higher temperature than the healthy participants. This means that fibromyalgia sufferers are more sensitive to cold temperatures just as they are to hot temperatures.

The outcome of this study is important to the legitimization of fibromyalgia for all individuals. It allows us to have scientific research behind the pain we feel with heat and cold. When I explain to people that I love spring and fall, when I used to love the heat of summer, it doesn’t make sense to them. It’s not the hatred of the season, it’s the hatred of the intense pain that comes along with each extreme end of the weather and temperature spectrum.

I hope to continue finding articles like this one in the news and media. It makes me grateful that the scientific community is not only recognizing chronic illnesses and chronic pain, but they are legitimizing it, and spending resources on studying it, treating it, and maybe one day, curing it.

xo,

Chronically Kristin

27 thoughts on “Fibromyalgia: The Temperature Extremist

  1. The weather in the winter makes my pain levels horrible. I always feel better when I go to Florida coming from Michigan in Jan, Feb, March and April season so far and also October through December. I’m not always out in the weather, we are inside in the air or a regular temp of about less then 78. I will say using the jacuzzi personally helps me a lot.

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  2. I used to love my hot tub but winters made it unbearable to get in. When I stepped out even tho it is literally 2 steps into my warm house, I felt like my whole body was in a vice. I was frozen in place. Walking 2 steps to the house was so painful.

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    • Hi Courtne,

      I’ve recently gotten into essential oils from DoTerra and they have helped a lot! I would suggest looking at those options. Additionally, heat pads have helped me as well. Also, yoga is a great option for us. It helps with pain, depression, and the need to stay active.
      I hope that helps!

      Kristin

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      • Kristin, You have wrote my life story… Weather cold or hot, rain or sunshine, really gets me and most of my friends don’t understand.. Also when my sugar is higher it makes the pain worse… I also do the DoTerra oils does help. Can’t do the yoga for several reasons. Thanks for your sharing hope you will continue… gentle hugs Paula

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      • Thank you Paula! I absolutely understand how that feels. Gentle hugs to you as well, and thank you for reading!

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  3. For me it’s the cold, I love the heat. My knees are so cold all the time that I sleep with heating pads, even the central air in my home is to cold

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  4. I am new to looking into fibro as a possibility of much of my pain. This info about hot and cold so rings true to me. I have so many varied symptoms but not many answers after going from doctor to doctor for years and mostly finding out what I don’t have. I will continue my search in this direction for now. The only part about this disease that concerns me is the lack of concrete diagnosis and the stigma of being thought of as a neurotic, which I honestly feel about myself every time a test comes back negative.

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    • Hi Donna, I know how you feel. Just keep fighting. I had to convince my doctor to run all the tests for it and now our relationship has completely changed because he realized I won’t give up and I’m going to fight. You’ll get there! Stay strong. It’s not in your head. 🙂

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    • I have also been tested for all sorts of things, apart from all that has been mentioned the heat gets to me big time I can not even have a warm bath. If my hands go into hot water I overheat quickly and if I am in a motorcar without aircon I overheat within 5 min, get a headache that nothing taken can help I just have to cool my body very quickly or suffer for the next 48 hours. Any one else out there that has this problem?

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      • Gwenda-Ann: I have the same problem as you with the heat. It’s horrible! I’m okay with hot water, but everything else you mentioned I experience as well.

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      • After reading this, yes, this summer I found extremely hard, I love the heat normally, but this year it just took it right out of me and I struggled to walk.

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  5. I too struggle with the cold and heat..Most days I struggle to regulate my body temperature… And keep it..
    My body seems to heat up and Persperation over whelms me and my hair is wet through… 😟😟

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  6. My god!! I’m glad I’ve read all your comments, as I can relate to most of them…. Sometimes I feel like it’s me and it’s all in my head, but truthfully it’s not… Meditation like 3 min body scan.. on you tube helps me and I do it loads a time in the day, especially when I’m ridged with pain, it helps to just relax me back and the pain is less… Just something to help anyone out there… Good Luck everyone you are not alone.

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  7. Yes me too def winter cold month are the worst for me and do also notice on the grey days , not had a good summer as always in northern England , but not thought about extreme heat ???
    I have just lost my job and I have been so down I decided to book holiday in Caribbean , now I’m worried to death thought some sun and a break away may help , has anyone else suffered abroad ?
    I’ve also got small patches of blisters which turn in to dry scaley patches this started on my eyebrow and has gradually spread over the months , doctor says its acne rosacea but I’m not so sure, when they decide to reappear I get terrible migraine nausea , feel generally flu symptoms , then my face feels like I have lots of spiders crawling over it , which soon turns into sharp stabbing pains , then it burns and stings like I’ve thrown acid on my face , then the spots appear and my general nerves seem to calm as I feel very anxious before they appear ???
    Anyone else ?

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  8. I have had CFS and Fibromyalgia for 28 yrs.
    Both heat and cold bother me terribly. A hot bath feels wonderful!! to me, as a fibro patient. But because of the vassodepressor syncope of CFS (I have low blood pressure and sudden drops in blood pressure), I haven’t been able to take a hot bath in yrs. It can be very frustrating.
    Thanks, it’s helpful to hear from other sufferers.

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  9. Most of this article rings a bell! We are into our second week of dreary rainy, its May where is my nice weather? Summer is usually my best season when it gets and stays warm. I do tend to overheat, but have found ways to compensate, cooling towels, ice packs that fit into a bandana worn as a headband, and cooling towels made for your wrists also. The temperature shifts over 10 degrees I had noticed bring misery and it was interesting to see that actually was in the article. I try and check the weather before making big plans so I won’t be the reason for cancellation.

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    • I completely agree! Heat is pretty rough for me but I try to use the same tools. It’s crazy how scientifically the pressure changes impact our symptoms.

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