Cold Weather and Pain

By | January 14, 2013

The Romans understood the salutary effects of warm waters and built elaborate structures such as this one in Bath, England to enhance their enjoyment.

The Romans understood the salutary effects of warm waters and built elaborate structures such as this one in Bath, England to enhance their enjoyment.

As we move into the middle of one of the coldest winters in recent memory here in southern California, I think that it is time to begin the discussion about the effect of weather on chronic pain. This is a subject which was well noted by the ancients, but which is underappreciated by we moderns. All of my patients regardless of the cause of their chronic pain syndrome report that it is worse during cold weather. The reason for this is not clear, but the salutary effect of heat is well known. The Romans built elaborate baths. In the middle ages and down into early modern times people in Europe would travel great distances to “take the cure” usually at places built around natural mineral hot springs. The Scandinavians are famous for their Saunas and lest you think that “modern medicine has made these physical treatments obsolete, I would like to tell you about a patient of mine here at Schlesinger Pain Centers, EB, an 85 year-old woman in whom I implanted an intrathecal drug delivery system (IDDS, pain pump) to treat the pain from a severe degenerative condition of the spine. She loves her pain pump, but reports that she never feels better than after she finishes her 20-minute soak in the hot tub at her gym, her version of the venerable Roman Baths.


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