MS and weather changes

Weather Changes: How Cold Air Affects Me

I’ve had my fair share of brain meltdowns in the scorching summer sun. You know, those moments where you can’t form a sentence or you’re so tired you could just nap for a whole day. The heat does a lot of interesting things to us and I’m no different. For me generally the heat just makes me weak all over, mentally weak and physically weak and I think that is common among most people with MS. What I have not seen as common is cold weather symptoms, or maybe people just aren’t talking about them as frequently.

Can’t seem to alleviate cold weather symptoms

In the summer time, generally I just need rest to recover from the effects of the sun, however in the winter my symptoms come and go with no way to alleviate them. For me, its mostly in my legs. I find that the nerve ending in my legs freak out in the cold air almost as if all of the nerves are turned on high all at the same time. Most of the time it is not painful, but sometimes it can be. I find that it is mostly just high uncomfortable and that it makes my knees very sore.

Cold air grasps my joints

In the past I was prescribed Lyrica to help with the craziness that was happening in my legs. Personally, I didn’t find it to make a big difference and chose not to take it as it seemed like just another pill I had to take everyday. I know that many people with MS generally welcome the cold air’s relief from the hot summer sun, but I find that I prefer the summer time. The cold air grasps on to my joints and my legs and doesn’t seem to want to let go. I would say that its not so much pain that I feel, but that I am just very aware of my legs and my knees. Does that make sense? I have read that some people experience issues with more spasticity in the winter months, and more fatigue. I can’t say that I have experienced either of those but sometimes it does feel like I am the only one who has issues in the cold weather. I’ve noticed that the symptoms start around 50 degrees outside and will get worse as the winter progresses. I live in Michigan, so often we have harsh winters, and when the temperatures drop to the 20’s and 30’s, I notice that is when my legs freak out the most. The colder the weather the more intense the sensations.

How do you feel about the weather? Do you have cold weather symptoms as well?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (106)
  • Michelleclarke
    2 weeks ago

    I live in Canada and deal with extreme cold as well.My legs become alot more spastic. It also harder for me to walk
    I Excell in the warmer month. Bring on summer

  • JoyH
    1 year ago

    I feel the same! I live in the Chicago area & my legs go wonky in the cold-more lethargic, knees painful & I feel like electric shocks or pins & needles in them! And in the midwest(as you know), it seems it’s either too hot or too cold-very few days that feel ok…

  • Curious1
    1 year ago

    The cold affects me by turning my spine into a popcicle with a chill I can’t shake sometimes. Also my legs get goosebumps when the cold fabric of my pants touches my skin. The problem is that goosebumps sting me! So I live wearing long-johns Nov to May, Lol! I end up hibernating for periods of time when my schedule allows.

  • Shannon24
    2 years ago

    Finally after 18 years I finally find people who are more like me. Love the heat HATE the cold , I would much rather hybernate under blankets and avoid all the crud the cold causes. As far as heat ,……even my doctor thinks it’s wierd that I can sit in a hot tub all day (and feel better) or take hot hot showers or sit in 100° weather BUT can not handle being cold which I am a majority of the time anyway lol

  • Sandy Richardson
    2 years ago

    I am glad to find I am not the only one with worsening symptoms in the cold. My spasticity gets much worse in the cold. Especially in cold water. I love to be in a swimming pool, but find most of them are too cold. Frustrating.

  • DellaMarie
    2 years ago

    My systems get worse on the winter. My legs and knees ache me when the weather gets cold. My feet and legs feel extremely cold all the time in the winter. They feel numb and tingly and no matter what I do they never can get warm.

  • skcullers
    2 years ago

    Wish I wasn’t a member of this club. This year seems harder. I think when temperatures change even barometric our bodies get crazier. One of my physical therapist said it is a side effect of people with autoimmune diseases. I have felt increasingly lightheaded and off kilter. Lucky me one of my lesions is on my cerebellum. Great to feel drunk and not have touched a drop. This disease really wears you down.

  • DonnaFA moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi skcullers, I’m sorry tp hear that you are entering one of the more difficult periods of the year for you. I hear your frustration and I just want you to know that you’re not alone. We’re here to share support, or just to listen when you need a friendly ear. Please don’t hesitate to reach out here or on our Facebook page when you need some support. -Warmly, Donna (MultipleSclerosis.net team)

  • Curious1
    2 years ago

    I get spasms all over and my spine gets so chilled I feel like a popcicle and can’t shake that feeling no matter how warm I dress. It’s very uncomfortable.

  • Jeancat
    2 years ago

    I live in Florida. The heat in the summer is rough but for me I’d rather deal with that then cold. Every year, like clockwork, my body can tell when the humidity subsides and rain starts, hello pain. I am not sure if the doctors really believe its the weather or a seasonal thing. They don’t deal with it. I have been watching this happen for over 10 years. September to maybe January or so, my bones hurt, every joint in my body, aches. Believe me it is debilitating. I have a sister with MS and she has the same thing. Restless legs are worse. Medications aren’t working. It’s difficult. No you are not alone. So grateful for all the good days. It’s amazing.

  • Jen74
    2 years ago

    I’m having a terrible time with the cold weather. It seems like once I get cold, I can’t get warm even when I put on layers of clothes. My hands get stiff and my right arm is really weak. I feel fatigued but not as fatigued as I get in the summer. I didn’t have this problem last winter. I find it very strange.

  • Gordy
    2 years ago

    Thanks for sharing this – I too thought it was just me , but this helps put things in perspective.
    Sadly, I’m in England, and it’s usually cold, anyway, but this helps me understand why it’s so bad in Winter – especially the legs – inflammation, weakness, stiffness, etc.
    I don’t want to increase the Baclofen either, as that just increases the fatigue. Anyway, thanks for sharing this valuable piece !

  • gmc
    2 years ago

    Sometimes my bones feel as if they’re made of ice. I never know if heat or cold will be my enemy.

  • 3 years ago

    i have been experiencing mega-leg cramping recently, (winter in maine) despite having a baclofen pump and taking too much oral baclofen on top of that. i’ve also been feeling cold all the time, despite the thermostat telling me it’s 68. at night under a comforter and blanket, i’m still cold. then i turned the heat up at night, and not only am i not shivering, my leg cramps got much better. coincidence? connection? with ms, one never knows. but this article tilts me toward the connection side. the eternal hmmmm…

  • Haokun
    3 years ago

    Me the same. I live in Beijing, China. The temperature here often gets below zero these days. It makes my left leg lose sensation, which means it can’t tell the difference between hot and cold. I kind of hate this feeling. However, it is really good to know so many people with the same symptoms could share with their stories. You have comforted me a lot. Thank you very much.

  • Sherrita
    4 years ago

    I live in Florida and most of the time I stay indoors and I feel fine but I am originally from Maryland and when I visited last year in the winter I could not cope with the cold. This years I went for Christmas and I was in bed the whole 2 weeks. Then I got back to Florida and it was unusually cold and I am still trying to recover.

  • cadajo111
    4 years ago

    I live in Maine, was diagnosed 5 years ago, I’ve been on Copaxone, Tysabri, now Tecfidera. The MS-y symptoms have finally settled in, how wonderful 🙂 but reading all of these comments (especially the Frankenstein legs) made me feel so comforted. I’m not dying, it’s not totally weird, everyone else experiences this too. It’s currently subzero here and has been below 25° for weeks with snow storms every four days. The cold definitely settles in my wrists and fingers and I get the stiff legs. It’s so sexy! Lol! Hang in there everyone, spring is near!

  • Beth D
    4 years ago

    I live in AZ. I do great in the summer provided I don’t get over heated. Winters here are very mild but as soon as the temp is below 65 degrees my “bad” hand as I call it, has a mitten on it. Or at least for the past 2 years since I’ve had permanent numbness. I was on Lyrica, had most of the side effects, new Neuro doc changed me to nortriptyline! Only wore a mitten about a dozen times this winter! So thankful.

  • Teri
    4 years ago

    Lived near Buffalo NY for many years and suffered through winters and had so much difficulty moving. After going on disability, moved south, and found my mobility is much improved. I had no issues during a very warm summer. The winter is great. I still have fatigue, tremors, etc. But at least I can move better. Hoping it lasts….

  • Alan Z
    4 years ago

    Oh and I’m another Zimmerman Jackie. Good to know you!

  • Alan Z
    4 years ago

    I live in Palm Springs, Ca. Yep the desert and yes it gets hot here, during the summer it is nothing for the tempos to be over 110 and higher. I Get the same fatigue as everyone else. I’ve had one experience where I blacked out at a family BBQ. But that’s been the extent of it. I’ve kind of chalked. It up to just being acclimated to the heat.
    This year though is the first that the cold has been bothering my legs. I was only dx back in Feb of 2013 so I don’t have much experience, if you will, with the change of seasons and how they affect my body.
    This winter it seems like I’ve had a lot more pain and spacity and the usual neuropothy burning/freezing in my feet was even more intense.
    My pain Doc suggested upping my Gapentian and my Neuro said Cymbalta. I Went with the Cymbalta. So far it’s kind of helping. But we are warming up again too so unless I go out and stick my feet in the pool I can’t say for sure.

  • jodij
    4 years ago

    Hi my name is Jodi and I live in Cranbrook, b.c. Canada. Yes it gets really cold here. Yes the heat in the summer is almost intolerable. I pretty much have to get cold to either drink, pour on me or jump into. I love going to lakes. I love to swim and the cold water is amazing. Only way I could go camping when it goes 20 degrees celius and higher like 30degrees or higher I can’t do anything but sit and have cold drinks. I never realized how the cold affected me until this year. Ive lived in the cold my whole life and loved winter with skiing skating etc.. but it actually does not feel good at all anymore. I don’t really like going outside except in the spring!

  • taz
    4 years ago

    I have always hated cold weather, and the older I get the more I hate it. Living in St. Louis it gets pretty cold, though it hasn’t been too terribly bad this year. I have no pain, but like duck commented, my legs get very stiff. I call them my Frankenstein legs. It’s like my knees won’t bend. Very awkward. Counting the days to 70+ degrees.

  • tonialand
    4 years ago

    My best friend pressured me to buy some fleece lined jeans for the winter. They have helped to keep the pain at bay when I’m outside. But my legs feel like I have two giant slabs of meat hanging off of them. I have my couch covered in heating pads or heating throws. And I have a heated mattress pad for just the legs & feet on my bed, which I love! Naturally, if your legs are numb you have to watch the temperature to prevent burns.
    My energy drive is dead. All I want to do is sleep. But I have to work. So this winter has been a tough one. Come-on Spring!

  • BostonBG007
    4 years ago

    I thought I was the only one that cold affected. I live outside of Boston and I’m sure you all know how cold it can get here too. Strangely enough heat doesn’t affect me. My body actually prefers It. Now yes I do get tired with it but i find I have more energy with it. I think it might have to do with the vitamin D.
    In the wintertime, my entire body shuts down. I am sluggish and my Legs have problems as well. But I am glad to know I’m not the only one. I’m 25 Years old and have been dealing with this for 7 Years

  • Joey
    4 years ago

    I live in Ontario, Canada and I suffer terribly in the winter from the cold. In the summer I can at least organize my day so that I do things in the morning or evening but at midday and in the afternoons I rest and avoid the heat and humidity. With the extreme cold, 30 and 40 degrees below zero, I am trapped in my house. One trip to a doctor’s appointment and I spent the next day in bed and in terrible pain. Even staying indoors does not protect me as the pain and extreme fatigue are worse when it is cold. It is my dream to spend my winters in Arizona but my tiny disability pension will never allow that to happen.I’m 62 years of age and all of my friends in my age group suffer more in the cold if they have any kind of illness, disability or injury.You have to be really tough to survive getting old!

  • Penny
    4 years ago

    I also live on Ohio and I find the weather here to be hideous! I’ve never lived anywhere else but every winter I struggle more. I spent time in AZ and while brutally hot it was not humid. There are also pools and A/C to escape to. The cold seems more brutal to me. My legs hurt continuously, I spasm in my rib cage and I’ve had a flare every December for the last three years! Ohio weather changes from snow and subzero temps to 40 degrees in one week. Its absurd!!

  • JulieJ
    4 years ago

    The muscle spasms have been really out of hand this year, and we are in Ohio. It isn’t any colder than usual for an Ohio winter, but the spasms have been waking me up nearly every night for three weeks or so and often say, “good morning” when I first get moving in the morning. The frustrating part is that they can happen at the back of my thighs, odd spots behind my shoulders and if I try to sleep with my arms under my pillow (stomach sleeper), the muscles in my arms spasm almost immediately. Holding a phone with my left arm has nearly the same result. It seems that when I begin to relax my muscles the trouble begins.

  • essjay
    4 years ago

    Winters are difficult with the oil prices so high I cannot afford to heat my house. This is the 5th winter. I find myself getting sick more often. And going in and out of one heated room is taking a toll on my body. There is no assistance in NJ for heating oil I have exhausted all the avenues. Anyway…I too find I have more pain in my bones and muscles in the cold. Am more accident prone ie falling and more spasms in my legs. Perhaps cause my body just cannot relax.No ahhhh moments. I much prefer the summer.I am counting down to spring

  • Carol Anne
    4 years ago

    Living in Texas since I was diagnosed in 2007, I thought only heat effected my MS symptoms, causing increased fatigue and leg weakness. If the temperature is over90, I have to significantly decrease any outside activity.
    On January 2 I went to St. Louis for the birth of my first grandchild. The temperature ranged from 4-30 degrees the entire time we were there, and I discovered that cold weather is as bad, if not worse. My muscle spasms from my lower back to my toes became so intense that it was painful to walk at times, and the neuropathic pains in my legs increased to the point that even accidentally rubbing my legs was not fun! I have a Baclofen pump that generally controls my spasticity, but found that I had to supplement with oral Baclofen in order to remain mobile. Since we will be moving to St. Louis in a few months, I am going to have to find a way to deal with the cold!

  • app2ride
    4 years ago

    I love the cold weather until it gets below zero. I HATE anything over 75 degrees. I start getting warm and can feel the crawly feeling in my spine. So I guess I finally got the right end of something with this hateful disease. The only thing that troubles me about winter are the stomach bugs…they scare me.

  • joddl.
    4 years ago

    Lately I’ve been suffering from knee, chest and upper back pains. This pain always takes place in the winter time. As to the chest/back pains I believe it may be flare ups from past pneumonia??? Last year a specialist took various types of x-rays but they couldn’t find the cause for the pains I get on a yearly basis. The radiologist indicated he didn’t find anything that needed attention. He did say there was scaring in my lungs. So I wonder if MS is causing this???

  • Holly
    4 years ago

    I too suffer summer and winter! It seems that extreme temps, no matter whether they’re hot or cold, seem to make everything worse! And the fatigue in the winter….I’ve decided I must’ve been a bear in a former life, because all I can do is sleep! I live in north Alabama, so we can have over 100 degree heat in the summer, but tonight it’s going down to 6 (Yes, that’s one digit! lol) so we definitely go from one end of the temperature spectrum to the other here. My dream is to move somewhere it stays about 70 all year, maybe that would help! Thanks for bringing this subject up, I hear alot about heat, but not much about cold.

  • MR. M.S.
    4 years ago

    I’m glad to see another Alabamian posting about the temperature extremes & the adverse effects it has on us!
    I live in east central AL. Seems like late spring & early fall are about the only safe times to be outside!

  • Michael Birdwell
    4 years ago

    Hello Jackie, I just want to tell you I share your pain in summer and winter. I was born and raised in Michigan for 55 years and understand the winters. I moved to Tn. in 2006 after retirement and to get away from the six months of winter. These arctic cold blast are still affecting me just like I was still in Michigan. I also share your leg pain in the cold. But, I also share the nerve pain all the way down my spine, of course that could be devics kicking in. Just wanted to let you know you are not alone.

  • duck
    4 years ago

    You are not alone. Heat..bring it on. Cold not so good. I suffer no pain but great difficulty getting my legs to function when I get cold. Like I have suddenly taken to walking on unbendable stilts! Wish there was better solution offerings than take another drug.

  • charlynn
    4 years ago

    Hi I just read your post and so happy that I am not alone suffering in cold weather. I can deal with the heat. I may slow down and need to rest for a bit but its bearable. The cold is another story. The pain is unbearable. Its like the nerve endings in my right leg and arm are on fire. I can’t walk right and don’t want to talk about thinking. I am still trying to find groceries I put away a week ago. I’m in Arizona and the cold will be over soon thank goodness.

  • Mark Selbert
    4 years ago

    For some reason I feel more larthargic in the late fall winter time frame. Not sure if I am manic or the MS kicks in? Maybe because the days are shorter and of course the warm weather is gone. I do not have issues in the warm weather. Of course being outside for along time in high 80’s or low 90’s is just stupid. I am not depressed but my mood changes when fall/winter comes in. Anybody else feel the same? Happy Holidays to All.

  • Constance
    4 years ago

    It helps to know others suffer when it is cold, not just hot. I love the sun, and although it seems to zap me of energy, winter days really bring out the spasticity and pain that I can’t get rid of. The fatigue is never ending no matter the weather. But the pain down my thighs, the cold feel in my right knee, and the feeling of muscles folding over right after I stand in the morning seems to be greater this winter than ever before.

  • itasara
    4 years ago

    I don’t really care for either extreme, but I can’t say that I have any MS symptoms d/t to either extreme. I probably like warmth better but the humidity bothers me as much as temps below 50 or 60. Lately I purchased some great compression socks that have a zipper down the sides which make them easier to get on. My legs feel so much better even in warmer whether, and I think they will help keep my feet and legs warmer in the winter and help my circulation in general.

  • Mark Selbert
    4 years ago

    Yes I too have compression socks. They are nice !

  • Ty
    4 years ago

    54 YO Male, Copaxone, now Techfidera –

    Three things:
    Barometric pressure, Humidity, Temperature.

    Originally from AZ and got really lethargic when over 90 (degrees F) or active over 85. Now in ID, I get the leg spasms at 30, sensitive skin burn, aching knees at about 35. When pressure changes or humidity is extreme, I must nap like a bear.

    Needless to say this really limits snowboarding, mountain biking and surfing, but I’ll keep trying!

  • Kathy
    4 years ago

    I find that when the barometric pressure drops all of my symptoms get worse. It doesnt matter if its rain or snow.

  • Holly
    4 years ago

    Same here!

  • April Rich
    4 years ago

    I live in Jersey and only been diagnosed a year. I too was told that the heat would create havoc on my body. But that was not the case. I still had my days, but overall I was fine. Yet on even the slightest chilly days, my feet go numb and I just feel miserable. Uncomfortable, exhausted and mentally not able to focus on anything but the cold. I may need to consider a life-changing move in the next few years as our fall/winters are getting colder and colder.

  • Mark Selbert
    4 years ago

    Interesting- Maybe when we hit a certain age- we just want to be in warm weather climate all the time. I used to love to go skiing-no more. I take playing golf vs skiing in the winter. I live in Boston area but I would love to be in Calif. or Florida during the winter.

  • sheaugst
    4 years ago

    I live in Michigan, too, and like so many others who have commented on your article, winters are harder on me than summers. I was baffled when my doctor told me the heat would bother me; since then I have worked in my garden in 90 degree weather and had no problems. Yet as soon as the cooler temperatures start, I suffer with fatigue. I think part of it is also a lack of sunlight — I am in southwestern Michigan and we have less sun here than most anywhere else in the U.S. Other problems include pains, though mostly in my joints and not so much my muscles. I am thankful for that because when I was first diagnosed I had no weight-bearing capabilities, was unable to stand and wheelchair-bound. After weeks of therapy and lots of hard work my legs have been fully functional (though at times extremely clumsy) for about 3-1/2 years now.

  • Mark Selbert
    4 years ago

    I feel the same as you pointed out! I suffer with fatigue in the late fall/winter time frame. My doctor said that light therapy could help? Not sure what kind of light would have to buy? Anyone know? Maybe a big key is to somehow keep busy so that you cannot think of taking a nap? I have big trouble getting up in the morning in the late fall/winter. THX

  • redlulu007
    4 years ago

    I’m from Arizona and the summers kill me. The fatigue is unbearable but I have to work. I spend most of my time in air conditioning. The cold my body loves it so far. Would love to end up in Colorado we will see.

  • dan
    4 years ago

    I’ve had MS since 2003, love summer, hate winter. My wife made me a small blanket which I cover my knees when they get cold, it helps because once they get cold they take a LONG time to warm up again. I live near Buffalo, NY and it gets cold.

  • ListeningToMS
    4 years ago

    I have had MS for 25 years and have always done worse in the winter and better in the summer. I have spasticity that worsens in cold climates and fatigue at times worsens as well especially if I can’t keep myself warm enough. Recently however the muggies of the summer months and “direct” sun on my head makes me feel almost disoriented and extremely fatigued. I now have to find shade or wear hats something I’ve never had to do in the past. Perhaps menopause has changed how heat affects MS for me.

  • Nancy Korotka
    5 years ago

    Cold weather affects me also. I hurt all over and don’t even want to go out of the house if it is below 10 degrees! Besides the MS since 2003, I also have severe Fibromyalgia, Inflammatory OA, and Osteoporosis. I can’t hardly use my hands anymore, my fingers are so deformed. Humidity is another problem if it ? 🙂 Just grin and bear it I suppose!

  • Bonnie
    5 years ago

    Hi, I also have issues with cold. I do not have issues with heat. I love the heat and can’t wait for summer to be back. I live in Iowa. Prior I lived in MN. I start having issues in October all the way through June. My feet and hands are always cold. My feet hurt during those months. I have to make sure I always where thick socks or the bottoms of my feet will ache. I sometimes have problems speaking when I am really cold. I actually gel up in the winter and cannot function. I hate it! I was diagnosed in 1997 and cold has always been an issue for me.

  • catherine
    5 years ago

    I have difficulty with the cold, but not the summer heat. The coldness on my body can sometimes feel like sunburn pain. I suffer extreme stiffness and even the fatigue worsens with the onset of cold weather. I live in New Jersey and really don’t know how much longer I can actually remain living here. My only source of comfort has been long hot showers and baths. It is almost as though my body is craving the heat. In the summer, I am fine. In fact, during the summer months I often hear the phrase “but you don’t look like you have MS.” (Still not sure what people mean by that phrase…but that’s another story)

  • Kimberly
    5 years ago

    It’s so nice to see others validate what I’ve been trying to tell doctors for over 20 years! Cold can cause just as negative effects as hot weather– they are just different kinds of symptoms. While heat can cause fatigue and dizziness to the point of making you unable to communicate, even utter a sound you are so exhausted, cold does the opposite to me. It puts my muscles in so much pain that I want, and on many occasion, have screamed,, yelled, fidgeted and even begged family members to shoot me (knowing full well there were no guns around, it was more to indicate my pain level). I never got those pain episodes in the south unless there was a major change in barometric pressure sweeping through between a holt and cold front. When I lived in Minnesota they happened all the time. Now that I’m in Chicago, I find it’s the change in pressure in the warmer months and the bitter cold in the winter. My ultimate conclusion is they should hand SanDiego over to people with MS. it’s climate stays 70s and sunny almost all year. We’d just have to do a bit of updating to their lack of handicap friendly areas, and we’d be set!!

  • Holly
    4 years ago

    I like that idea, when do we leave?? LOL

  • mystory
    5 years ago

    I feel everything you described. It makes me ache and takes a long time for me to warm up once the chill settles in.
    I’ve lived in New England most of my life and believe that with every New England winter, the cold seeps deeper into your bones and remains there. I’m convinced that’s why my legs feel so heavy. They are carrying the weight of so many winters past…

  • Sheri
    5 years ago

    Cold has been my issue for 20 years! I also live in Michigan and anything under 80 I’m double layered! I sleep year round with an electric blanket because I can’t handle the ac.. It feels like I get cold from the inside out.. My bones and joints hurts so badly! Heat I love it’s only the humidity that causes big problems! Sometimes heat can cause numbness to be a little worse but it’s better than pain!

  • LizW
    5 years ago

    I live in New Zealand and was diagnosed 7 years ago. Was also diagnosed with fibro too. Winter is my worse time of year. I am great in the heat.

  • kac922
    5 years ago

    You mentioned in a previous article that you also have ulcerative colitis.

    I have ulcerative colitis and it can definitely cause joint pain – it’s very common for us IBD sufferers. It may be a combo of both your MS and your ulcerative colitis. It gets a LOT worse for me in cold weather.

    Another similar condition that a lot of us autoimmune peeps have is Raynaud’s phenomenon, which is a constricting of the blood vessels in your extremities due to cold or stress, that can cause pain and white or blue toes and fingers.

    I’m assuming your UC is under control – if not, you could even have restless legs syndrome which can be brought on by iron deficiency – also common in people with UC due to decreased nutrient absorption.

  • TerrieK
    5 years ago

    Oh this is so me! Living in the DFW area, we get huge extremes here. For instance, today’s high 79°, tomorrow’s high 41°. I already know I will be in excruciating pain tomorrow.

    I’m on Gabapenten, Baclofen and Cymbalta for the pain. I also go to physical therapy at least once a week. PT has probably helped the most.

    I wish more would be written about how cold weather effects us MSers.

  • Tonia
    5 years ago

    I completely agree. I am bothered by the heat, over about 85. However I can’t handle cold weather either. It starts at 50, and goes down hill from there.

  • dndallen7
    5 years ago

    I to have problems in the winter. I feel it in my joints and muscles. I have more severe fatigue. I have less energy. I take at least a 3 hour nap in the afternoon and that is after going to bed and sleeping 10-12 hours. In the summer though it is a whole new world. I love the sun. I feel energized. Don’t really have to take naps and have much less fatigue. I swim out in my pool with my girls and try to do leg exercises and I just feel awesome. My family hates it because we have to keep the house so warm for me. We have a wood burning stove and it gets up to 85 degrees in our living room. I love it. I can walk around my house in shorts. The second I go outside though in the winter. Ouch! I live about 4 hours East of the Michigan border in IL. We have more cold then we do snow. I completely understand how you feel.

  • Kim Imus Schaefer
    5 years ago

    Extreme temps Either way, really mess with my MS (and I have had MS for over 22 years now)

  • erussojr
    5 years ago

    me too, the hot summer especially da humidity, just soaks up all my energy,like us ms’ers have plenty to share, ha. it’s like kryptonite to superman. but the really cold winters aint no picnic either. it is easier to warm up, than to cool down for me, but extreme cold temps are very dangerous too. like snow or ice, or even just shivering when ya got horrible balance to begin with, can result badly if your not holding onto a railing or wall. I live in massachusettes n get that “super fun” new England weather. so try not to bundle up too much during the bright sunny day, especially if doing something physical. or i’ll overheat, and if I get hot n tired n stop to rest, get cold. then it gets cold at nite if I’m not moving, doing something. then I over heat if I go any public place ( restaurant, a shopping store, etc.) cuz everyone else is cold. so they start a fire or crank da heat n close all da windows, n it takes me like a minute 2 warm up or so with the heaters maxxed out , n then it starts drying out my eyes n making me drowsy and more tired. I have to at least crack da window or something. I always feel guilty cuz, others are cold, and I always feel like sayin “twiddle yer friggin thumbs or sumthin” I know your cold but I’m dying here….

  • cat
    5 years ago

    OMG winter is the worst. In the summer, if I’m outside in the heat, my legs get all wonky. But once I get back inside in the nice, cool air conditioning things settle down. In the winter I do nothing but hurt and my legs are on a permanent wonk cycle. Nothing helps so I just pray for spring.

  • MAWG
    5 years ago

    If the temperatures get into the 30’s; and, I don’t have on the proper clothing, I will go into a serious spell of shaking like I am having seizures, once I get into a warmer temperature it goes away and I am better as if it didn’t happen.

    Also; sometimes, at night my feet get very, very cold and my doctor told me that I was having inward fevers from the medication and to take a Tylenol and this has really worked for me most of the time.

    Hot weather doesn’t bother me as much; but, cold weather is my enemy and I am in the Atlanta area where it does get cold here at times.

  • Niki
    5 years ago

    I can relate as to the temps over 70 tend to kick my butt and I spend most of the summer in the house with the air conditioning. I do force myself outside with my 5 yr old this past summer and it took a toll on me but I kept going, even took her to the pool which wore me out in every way possible lol. Always fatigued in summer it seems and nothing ever gets done around the house most of the summer because I am to worn out from trying to do things outside with my daughter when possible. I even put cold wet towels on my head and go in to cool myself down with cold water on my head, neck, wrists and backs of knees which help for a little bit. I also sport my cool vest but it ends up unthawing to fast then trapping head in making it worse if that makes any sense. The perfect temps for me is high 50’s to low 70’s. Now that winter is slowly coming, my body gets hit HARD due to instant drops in temps and that makes my whole body ache and hurt bad. My walking is off until the cold weather stabilizes and then I am somewhat ok. But the cold affects me terrible most of the winters and I usually have at least one relapse and am sick a lot off and on with bronchitus/sinus stuff. Most of my pain is my back and then slowly moves into my legs most of the time but not always. My neck is attacked big time in the summer when storms are coming and also in the cold when temps drop and when snow is coming. It is almost like a weather forecaster lol. My back and neck are starting up today actually and thought ohhhhh the weather is going to drop I bet. I looked at the weather bug and yep we are to be going from high 50’s low 60’s to cold and possible snow wednesday.. Wish I could from the base of my skull to my hips replaced lol… Hope that you all make it through this winter ok and feel the best you can 🙂

  • Alison
    5 years ago

    YES!!! The cold does bother me! My legs are stiff and I feel
    as if it takes more effort to walk. My vision is also affected.
    By the end of the day…after many cups of tea…I make sure that I am near the bathroom!

  • north-star
    5 years ago

    Thanks for this post on cold weather, I’ve learned a lot from reading the replies…

    My legs get spastic when it’s cold, especially at night. One of them will start tensing up again and again. I’ve also awakened shivering every couple of months. It’s not cold in the house; for some reason my core temperature crashes, and if I can’t get warm, I have to take a hot shower. Also my feet are different temperatures, one’s okay in hot weather, they’re both harder to warm up in winter.

    The cold water shock, everything shuts down for a minute or two, happens in extreme temps, too. I hate it when I lose control because I put my hands (or body) in a shower that’s winter-cold, or hot that suddenly cools down. Or I miscalculate and get in too soon..

    Hot weather does slow me down and humidity plus heat does me in rapidly. But the affect is that I slow down. Winter, on the other hand, stops me or makes me clumsy, not what you want walking on ice, or getting into a shower!

  • NikkiL
    5 years ago

    I also can relate. With the cold my left leg locks up, makes it hard to get in the car because it won’t bend. I try to stay in but working and having young kids I can’t so much.

  • SenoraT21
    5 years ago

    Cold weather has NEVER Been My Friend! I’m mid-June baby & live 4 the outdoors, fun in the sun, 80-90s temps are great 4 me 😎 but when the temps get below 60 degrees, my body begins preparation 4 hibernation. I naturally want 2 curl up under a blanket w/a good book. When I do Have2 go outdoors, I prefer sunny days 4 warmth & many layers of insulation clothing. I know there are more people like me out there…sumwhere…

  • dndallen7
    5 years ago

    I am out there like you. I love the 80-90 degree temps. I love being out in my pool with my girls. When it hits about 40 degrees, that is when I start to feel icky. I can just feel it everywhere in my extremities. It’s in the 50’s now and it feels good, not to bad. But once nightfall hits and it drops down to 20 degrees, my legs start to ache.

  • Deb
    5 years ago

    I just want to wish all my MS brothers and sisters out there a blessed thanksgiving.

  • Deb
    5 years ago

    We retired to Las Vegas to get away from the cold wet weather in Seattle. I just couldn’t handle the constant pain or the problems in my legs from it. Vegas on the other hand has been wonderful for me even in the 120 degree temps. We of course bought a house with a pool so If i do feel overwhelmed from the heat into the pool I go. WEATHER can REALLY affect how my body reacts to the MS.

  • Em
    5 years ago

    When I was diagnosed, my doctor told me to stay out of the extreme heat. However, I haven’t had any major problems with the heat. There’s no place I’d rather be than a beach. I’ve found since my diagnosis (2010) the winter gives me more problems than the heat of the summer.
    I’m glad to see I’m not the only one!

  • -lois-
    5 years ago

    Anymore, the cold is worse than the heat for me. If it gets in the 90s, I can’t sit outside in the sun without all of my energy being zapped but once it goes below 70…I, too, become a heat seeker. Electric blanket all night on high, wool furry slippers, I’m cold from the time I get out from under my blanket…until I return to it! And my doc says my circulation is great… Yeah…winter is more uncomfortable than summer for me, too. It’s easy to cool off…not so easy to get warm!

  • angelami
    5 years ago

    The heat does not bother me as much as cold weather. I have severe neuropathy in my right leg and the cold amplifies it immensely!

  • Jackie Zimmerman author
    5 years ago

    Wow you guys! I had no idea that so many of us had issues with cold weather! Why does it seem like this is not a common thread among doctors?!

  • north-star
    5 years ago

    That’s a good question, maybe we all need to mention it to our neurologists! I don’t think I ever have brought it up.

  • Tim S
    5 years ago

    I live in Lower Alabama and the heat of the Summer doesn’t have near the adverse effects Cold weather has on my MS symptoms. My legs ache, my memory slips I’m not Just tired I’m exhausted. I hate cold weather!!!

  • SenoraT21
    5 years ago

    Your post helped me see that I am not alone. Thank you. Give me the 70s & above evry day, even if the sun is beaming! When I worked in a military hospital w/74 degree constant air-conditioning year-round, I found sunny spots where I could remotely thaw during WA winters and spent my breaks & lunch during WA summers outdoors 2 melt away my achey body pains & boost my energy until days end.

  • Melissa
    5 years ago

    I will honestly say, I thought the cold weather was supposed to make MS symptoms better because the heat exacerbates them so. However, I have found so does the cold. It generally is a not very painful nerve tingling numb sensation, throughout my whole right side. ( which is how I discovered the MS to start with). I do have certain areas in my back that feel like I have hot pokers digging into my spine but they come and go. I still struggle with just trying to understand my body and changes through different temperatures and such….sometimes feel like I’m gaining understanding and then something new !

  • Mjclof
    5 years ago

    I just read all of the comments and I have to say, I get down right bitchy when I am cold to the bone. Now I know the reason! 🙂

  • Mjclof
    5 years ago

    Thank you for posting this! I hate being cold and have had horrible leg cramps with the cold onset. I love the warm weather, as long as I don’t over exert. Your post helped me feel like I’m not alone with my symptoms. Since my diagnosis this past April I continually look for reasons as to why I must have been mis-diagnosed. The pain with the cold weather was one of those reasons. For example; it’s cold, not hot, so This can’t be MS.

  • greg0154
    5 years ago

    I’m so glad you wrote about this topic. I don’t seem to have too many problems with the heat of the summer. I have come to realize that despite having a baclofen pump, I have spasticity that isn’t necessarily triggered by the cold weather outdoors, but is triggered in the house when my feet or legs get cold. It can also occur when I feel a cool draft on me. Socks are a must when I sleep at night.

  • Audrey VanWalbeck
    5 years ago

    Thank you I mentioned to my Nero that cold air can irritate me so bad because of my nervous system, in the summer if my feet step in cold water from the outside water hose I almost fall down from the shock waves that go through my body and because I live in Michigan when it gets cold and snowy when my jeans touch my legs it drives me nuts, so I have to wear long johns under my jeans. I have been dx for 17 years and this is the first year my walking has become difficult so needless to say I will limit going outside, it is hard enough to walk on dry cement let alone ice and snow. By the way my Nero said he had not heard about the cold before so I am glad others also have this!

  • north-star
    5 years ago

    That shock that comes with sudden cold temperatures, especially cold water is weird and kind of dangerous. It makes sense that the MS body has, effectively, “too much information” to process. It’s dangerous because everything shuts completely down for a minute or so. Fine if I’m balanced and holding on to something, scary otherwise. The pain when the nerves check in again can also interfere with mobility. You aren’t alone, Audrey!

  • AlexisJ
    5 years ago

    So good to know I am not the only one! Although not to some of the extremes I have just read, thankfully! Like Cherie, I also recently moved to northern Minnesota. This will be my first winter. No huge deal, as I am from Cleveland, but ever since being diagnosed two years ago, the cold weather does a number on me!

    It feels like it takes ahold of my spine, and won’t let go. The feeling travels up to my shoulders, eventually causing a tension-like headache. Happens mostly after walking to my cold car and then having to drive.

    Once I get to my destination and warm again, I am fine! So, the thermometer says it’s 10 degrees this morning….who-hoo! 🙂

  • Felix
    5 years ago

    I agree completely, I have regular sports massage to relieve spasticity and correct my posture. During the warmer months I only need these sessions every three weeks, but when the weather turns, I am reduced to visiting every two weeks, unless I have a relapse (these are always in the colder months) when I need to drop it to every week. The heat doesn’t bother me, as long as it isn’t humid.

  • KatrinaS
    5 years ago

    In my 2nd year of MS and have decided winter is harder for me than summer. Don’t like the cold. (Live in Utah) Can’t seem to warm up. My feet are always cold. And my legs/knees ache more. Glad we are not alone here. 😉

  • TerrieK
    5 years ago

    I can totally relate. The cold causes me such pain. Especially, here in Big D, where yesterday it was 80F and today 37F.

  • Nathan J. Olson
    5 years ago

    The cold makes it tough on my joints. Sometimes I need so much time to warm myself up in the morning just to unfurl from the fetal position. But then if I get too warm there goes my other symptoms. Just need to find that nice medium which is easier said than done.

  • Pyrlover
    5 years ago

    Had been in great remission for 15 yrs and now it’s taken a firm hold on me. Avonex plus other meds and this winter in Michigan has me down for the count. My rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis is wreaking havoc on my joints and the MS just compounds it now. Can barely function inside/outside this year. Hoping it evens itself out as I’m not strong enough to clean house nor cook for myself each day.
    Happy Thanksgiving to all and enjoy the time with family/friends. In pain but plan on having fun 🙂

  • Jackie Zimmerman author
    5 years ago

    I feel EXACTLY the same way. I go to sleep with a heated blanket and 2 quilts and two dogs because I get so cold.

  • Terry Lynn Sammons
    5 years ago

    I’m experiencing the same leg problems you’re having in the winter months , as the temperature drops. I have leg spasms and there uncontrollable and I’ve noticed it more this year , than last year. But this is only my second year , that I’ve been diagnosed with MS. So I’m still fairly new at all of this , but I feel like am in the same boat that you’re in. Well as far as your legs symptoms go , it sound like to me. In the winter months I’m experiencing a lot of the same things as you are. when the temperature drops below 50º , especially in the 40’s and colder here in East Tennessee. I’m having the leg problems and with my knees also , it seems to bother me no where else but my legs . Now I know its due to the cold weather , but after the day gets later. I start getting really more painful. I get really aggravated easily then , and I am finding myself being more tired than usual. I see myself having to take more naps. Or just sleeping and having to go to bed earlier , and earlier. But since the time has changed back it’s not so noticeable and bad . Now that it gets dark earlier , but I do agree with you. People speak of the cold weather months less then they do during the hot summers. But you’re not alone , at least I can say I have the same problems. Definitely close to the leg problems you’re experiencing. Good luck and God bless you. Take care.

  • Favara
    5 years ago

    Cold isn’t real kind to me, stiffness, spasticity, cramps, and constant shivering. But heat brings on a whole other set of issues.

  • Cherie
    5 years ago

    I am extremely sensitive to cold. Living in northern Minnesota now, I dread the winter months. The colder it gets, the heavier my body becomes. I’m usually ok until it goes subzero. Then it feels as if it takes Herculean effort to move at all. I end up just
    staying in bed.
    I am feel cold almost all the time and it takes a long time to warm me up. We purchased
    an electric mattress pad last
    winter. It really helps. We (my
    husband) turns it on an hour
    before bed and it is toasty
    when I get in. Luckily it has
    dual controls so his side is
    comfortable so he doesn’t
    overheat.
    I have no problem with the heat, just the humidity. It has the same effect on my body. So I can also get into our sauna to warm up.
    Perfect timing on this post as we hit single digits this morning and -temps expected tomorrow night. Bbbrrrr….

  • Pam
    5 years ago

    I, too, live in Michigan. and the cold bothers me as much if not more, than the heat. in the summer I can stay in the air. or in water(we live on a lake). but winter and cold. theres no real escape. my leg dosent want to work right. my muscles all tighten up so much it hurts..

  • jaksmom
    5 years ago

    We’ve just been having some cold weather, and I’ve noticed bad muscle twitches and spasms when I’m out in the cold, plus additional stiffness. It’s also very hard to regulate my body temperature.

  • Mike
    5 years ago

    I can also relate, I was diagnosed in 2007 and just finished up physical therapy for a lower back issue. I realized just recently that when it’s cold the more I can exercise, the less my joints ache.

  • Jackie Zimmerman author
    5 years ago

    I feel the same way. Running in the cold is easier on my body and my mind so it doesn’t over heat but the cold air is harder on my legs. It’s almost a toss up.

  • Jessica Petroff
    5 years ago

    I can relate as well. Like you said, most welcome the cold, but not me. I don’t like the super hot or cold. I live in Indiana, so I can relate to the harsh winters.

    I cannot deal with the constant fluctuation of weather (that Indiana seems to have). I get more symptomatic and have a harder time physically and cognitively.

    Once I become overheated, my neurons come to halt and I can barely function. The cold is the same way, with the exception of I cannot warm up once my core temperature drops. I can literally shake for hours, so I have to be very prepared when I go out in the cold. I’m the layer queen.

    I’m sure there are many more out there like us, especially those that do live in areas that have harsh winters. Stay warm this winter and best of luck to you!

  • Jackie Zimmerman author
    5 years ago

    I wonder what the stats are about people with MS and Reynauds. I haven’t been officially diagnosed with it but my hands definitely turn blue sometimes, and when my body temperature drops its really hard to get it back up. I wonder if there are any stats on this.

  • Alice
    5 years ago

    I actually heat seek. I have had MS for 13 years and am really not bothered by the heat but I am extremely bothered by the cold.My Reynauds kicks in and I find sometimes that I just can’t get warm.

  • Curious1
    5 years ago

    I can relate, the cold bothers me too. I feel like it gets into my spine and turns me into a giant Popsicle, I can’t shake it and it’s very uncomfortable. Plus, goosebumps are a problem because when I get them on my legs, they actually sting! So, I wear ladies long johns everyday once the heat is over. I’ve accumulated quite a collection of different types, I probably have a couple dozen! As I type this at dawn, I’m still wearing very thick pjs and I’m under a quilt and I’m still not warm.

  • Poll