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Navigating Musculoskeletal Aches and Pains During Flu and Cold Season

  • Mar 13 2023

Woman blowing her nose in the snow. Winter means snowsports and beautiful scenery, but it also means cold and flu season. Every winter, millions of people get sick with the flu or a cold and experience various unpleasant symptoms, like musculoskeletal aches and pains

While aches and pains are usually harmless, they can signify other underlying health problems. They also make it harder to stay active and enjoy the winter season. 

At SI Ortho, our team has the expertise to treat various orthopedic problems, including musculoskeletal pain and aches. Read on to learn more about why aches are more common during the flu and cold season, what they can signal, and how SI Ortho can get you back to living pain-free. 

Why Is Musculoskeletal Pain Common During Flu and Cold Season?

Sick man on the couch looking at a thermometer. While aches and pains can occur at any time of the year, many people find them harder to cope with during the winter months. These aches and pains happen more in the winter due to the cold temperatures and the increased rate of sickness. 

When the weather is cold, the body prioritizes blood flow to vital organs, reducing blood flow to the extremities. This is a bodily mechanism meant to preserve your life in extreme cold, but it has the unfortunate side effect of making the soft tissues around your joints less pliable. As a result, your joints can feel achy, stiff, and tight. 

Catching a cold or the flu can also increase your aches and pains. When the body fights off a virus, the immune system works overtime and releases white blood cells. As the white blood cells fight off the infection, they can also create inflammation, leaving your body feeling achy. 

Can Musculoskeletal Pain Signal Other Health Problems?

Physical therapist helping patient stretch her hips. While your aches and pains could be the result of cold weather or a recent virus, there may also be other underlying causes. If you have persistent or severe musculoskeletal pain, it is essential to consult a doctor. There are a number of conditions that can cause aches and pains.

  • Osteoarthritis: a degenerative joint disease that occurs when the cartilage that cushions the joints wears down, leading to pain and stiffness.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: a chronic autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation, pain, fatigue, fever, and loss of function in the affected joints.
  • Tendinitis: inflammation or irritation of a tendon, which is the fibrous tissue that connects muscle to bone.
  • Bursitis: inflammation or irritation of a bursa, which are tiny fluid-filled sacs that cushion and lubricate joints.
  • Fibromyalgia: a chronic pain condition characterized by widespread muscle pain and tenderness, as well as fatigue and sleep disturbances.

As you can see, aches and pains are not always something that you should take lightly. The longer you wait before seeking treatment, the more advanced any underlying conditions can get. 

Treatment for Musculoskeletal Pain at SI Ortho

Treatment for your aches and pains entirely depends on the underlying conditions behind the pain. In other words, treatment for osteoarthritis will look very different from treatment for fibromyalgia. Regardless of what your SI Ortho specialist diagnoses you with, rest assured that you will receive the best possible treatment personalized to your needs. Treatment options may include: 

  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help to reduce pain and improve mobility. Exercises and stretches can strengthen the muscles and improve flexibility.
  • Heat and cold therapy: Applying heat or cold to the affected area can help to reduce pain and inflammation. 
  • Injections: For some types of musculoskeletal pain, such as arthritis, injections of corticosteroids or other medications may be used to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help to alleviate muscle aches and pains. Your doctor may prescribe stronger pain medications or anti-inflammatory drugs for more severe pain.
  • Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat the underlying cause of musculoskeletal pain.

Whether your condition requires conservative treatments like physical therapy or more invasive treatments like surgery, SI Ortho medical professionals have you covered. Equipped with the most state-of-the-art techniques and training, the SI Ortho team will get you back to active, pain-free movement quickly and safely.

If you have musculoskeletal pains or aches, don’t put off scheduling an appointment with an SI Ortho medical professional. Get the treatment you need by scheduling an appointment today. 

Posted in: General & Pediatric Orthopaedic Care