11

ideas submitted that could potentially solve Paula’s challenge

Paula suffers from extreme cold sensitivity in her feet and no matter what she does, she can’t get them to stay warm. With this, her whole body constantly feels cold and it’s beginning to affect every aspect of her life.

Paula’s challenge

Paula struggles with temperature changes that particularly affect her feet

“My feet are usually cold, or rather freezing. It’s a very uncomfortable feeling – a strange and numb sensitivity. And no matter how many socks, blankets, different sources of heat or hot water I apply, they will still be cold.”

Whilst cold feet can be a problem for many, solutions which work for other people do little to help Paula. From mountaineer socks and boots with fur lining to hot water and electric blankets, Paula has tried it all – but nothing has worked. Exercising has become a struggle as her feet remain cold and numb whenever she goes walking or swimming – her challenge is really beginning to affect every aspect of her life.

“It’s frustrating when you don’t seem to be making any progress”.

The impact on Paula's life

Relationships 

With constantly cold feet – her whole body feels cold and she is always fighting to stay warm. At home this means having the heating on full blast and sleeping with several blankets – but still she shivers whilst her husband sweats and over-heats.

Isolation

At work, she wears an overcoat and multiple layers of socks – things that “kind of separate me from other people”. Her feet often feel hard and numb, meaning any kind of movement can be problematic, and because of the nature of her challenge, it can be underestimated by people who think everyone experiences this problem – “everybody is cold at one point or another”.

 

The bigger picture

Many people living with MS find themselves affected by hot and cold, with the change in temperature affecting how messages pass along nerves in the brain that have been damaged by MS, making symptoms worse.2

Like Paula many others also find the cold a problem, whilst around 58% of people living with MS actually have difficulty tolerating the heat.1,2 The variety of challenges we received relating to temperature highlights just how differently it can affect different people:

“Not being able to kick my duvet off in bed if my feet are too hot, so lying there trapped in a sauna or pulling the whole duvet off and waking up shivering an hour later. I get weaker with temperature increase but by the time I wake up hot it is already too late to move my legs!”

– Em, United Kingdom – The World vs.MS challenger.

“I get too hot in the gym which brings on past symptoms such as pins and needles in my legs.”

– Paula, United Kingdom– The World vs.MS challenger.

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References: 1. Flensner G. et al. Sensitivity to heat in MS patients: a factor strongly influencing symptomology – an explorative survey. BMC Neurology 2011; 11:27. 2. MS Society. Hot and cold – the effects of temperature on MS factsheet. Available at: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/ms-resources/hot-and-cold-effects-of-temperature-on-ms-factsheet. Last accessed: August 2016 3. Prevalence and incidence of multiple sclerosis. MS Trust. Available at: https://www.mstrust.org.uk/a-z/prevalence-and-incidence-multiple-sclerosis. Last accessed: August 2016. 4. Introduction to MS. MS Trust. Available at: https://www.mstrust.org.uk/understanding-ms/what-ms/introduction-ms. Last accessed: August 2016.

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