Monday, February 13, 2023


Much of what you hear about seasonal impacts in MS will talk about heat intolerance and how to stay cool during the summer months.  But cold weather can also exacerbate MS related issues.

I experience episodes of increased muscle tone which some neurologists call spasticity.  Another school of thought excludes this symptom based on findings during a standard neurological exam.  A neurologist will attempt to invoke a response from large muscles with rapid movement of a limb (usually the legs).  When a muscle response is noted, spasticity is diagnosed.  But a few notable physicians do include increased muscle tone and stiffness as indicative of spasticity.

When the weather turns cold, it's normal to tense up a bit in an effort to brace against the cooler temperatures and stay warm.  It is during the winter months that I find myself really needing to keep up with my stretching routine and sometimes add an extra session into my day.  Stiffness can become uncomfortable and painful at times.  

A warm shower, resting with a heating pad and gentle movement also help relieve the discomfort I experience.

Cold doesn't help matters.  The body's response to cold, withdrawal of blood from the extremities, shivering; all contribute to tightening of muscles.  When muscles are tight and stiff it takes a lot more energy to do simple tasks which results in fatigue.  

Understanding how all these elements play out in my body has been very helpful.  With any chronic condition, it's important to learn as much as you can about what triggers your symptoms.  Having a toolkit of strategies to work with is empowering and effective self-care can make a huge difference in your day-to-day.

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