According to new research from the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), many Americans could be experiencing as much pain as cheer this holiday season.
This study, which included responses from 1,000 nationally representative Americans, shows that almost all Americans can name at least one thing that triggers physical pain during the winter, yet half of them put talking to a physician about pain at the bottom of their holiday to-do list. The survey also uncovered that, instead of talking to a physician about their pain, Americans would rather focus on other holiday and seasonal chores including: taking down holiday decorations by themselves (55 percent), shoveling snow for an hour alone (44 percent) and waiting in line to return or exchange gifts the day after Christmas (33 percent).
Not surprisingly, responses showed that adults 45 and older are most likely to experience pain during the winter, with some of the top pain triggers including freezing temperatures, slips and falls on icy ground, and shoveling snow. In addition, the cold weather may also worsen pain from pre-existing conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and general muscle aches. Some of these conditions can be anticipated with the coming winter months, but with two out of five Americans admitting that they would ignore their pain and simply deal with it after the holidays, it is important to note that ignoring or under-treating your pain may cause more of it. No matter the time of year, it is important to talk to your physician about what is causing your pain and the best way to go about handling it.
Pain may be unavoidable for many during the next few months, but it does not have to prevent you from enjoying the holidays. Starting the conversation with your physician about what is causing your pain is the first step in finding an effective treatment plan. Managing your pain is not a “one size fits all” diagnosis, and comprehensive care, including appropriate use of pain medications, may be able to offer you the relief you need to enjoy the holidays.
To find out more about how you can manage your pain this holiday and winter season, visit osteopathic.org/pain to take our “Living with Pain?” quiz and download a pain checklist to help you have a more productive discussion with your physician.
Jennifer N. Caudle, DO, an AOA board-certified family physician, serves as an assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford (UMDNJ-SOM). For more information about osteopathic medicine and tools to help “Break Through Your Pain” please visit www.osteopathic.org/pain.