It’s not just the cold weather that adds to the torment of people suffering CRPS. The current extreme hot spell, with temperatures in many places in the UK exceeding 30 degrees Celsius, may also have played havoc with your symptoms.
The evidence for heat exacerbating CRPS is only anecdotal, but that anecdotal evidence seems extensive. From the comments below, it’s clear that not everyone is affected, but this very unscientific poll of some of our clients with CRPS produced the following comments:
“Very uncomfortable, my leg’s even more swollen than normal.”
“It makes the pain go through the roof. It’s awful.”
“My whole leg’s gone up like a balloon and it’s so itchy as well.”
“My hand’s on fire. To be honest I think I coped better in the winter.”
“I can’t really say I’ve noticed it’s made any difference.”
“The really strange thing is that it’s not just my leg that swells up more in the heat, it feels like most of my body’s more puffy. Not painful as such, but slightly swollen all over. I can’t remember that before I had CRPS.”
Other heat-related symptoms mentioned less frequently by people with CRPS are aching joints, nausea and bad headaches.
Some sufferers speculate that the reason behind the heat-related symptoms is down to air pressure changes. With reference to both hot and cold weather changes, a CRPS sufferer once told the writer that he feels like a “human barometer”, saying that he can predict a change in the weather without seeing the weather forecast.
What can be done?
In terms of reducing the effect of the heat, much of the advice that floats around is pretty much common sense. However, it’s advisable to:
- not to go outside unless you have to and whether you’re indoors or outdoors, stay in the shade.
- wear light, loose-fitting clothing. This is par for the course if you suffer CRPS, but it can also help to keep you cool. If you do venture outside, lighter colours and shades absorb less heat.
- keep well-hydrated – water is best. Drinking iced water also helps to keep you cool.
- keep up your energy levels with healthy food including plenty of fruit and vegetables. Remember, salt and sugar will dehydrate you.
- keep moving gently to prevent stiff and painful joints.
- try to keep yourself distracted from the heat. This is easier said than done, but maybe it’s time to start that new box set or give mindfulness a go.
Generally, fans can be great in the heat, but not if you have CRPS. However, our client Philip has some good advice about how to use them:
“I keep them on low on the other side of the room from where I am and I place a small screen in front of them to disperse the flow of air so that it’s not all directed one way. This keeps the air circulating so it does help a bit.”
Remember, anything more than a minor, temporary exacerbation or flair in your CRPS symptoms should be reported to your doctor. Whilst understandably very tempting, it is particularly important that you don’t increase the dosage of any medication without first discussing this with your doctor.