By Elizabeth Magill
For too many Americans, the holiday season can bring as much pain as cheer.
According to a new survey by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), nine out of ten Americans over the age of 45 can name at least one holiday or winter activity that causes them physical pain.
Topping the list of activities that cause pain is slipping and falling on icy surfaces. Cold weather can also trigger flare-ups of fibromyalgia, arthritis, muscle aches, and other pre-existing conditions.
Cold weather is the culprit for most painful injuries, but so are holiday-related activities like shopping and wrapping presents:
- Slipping and falling on icy ground (80%)
- Shoveling Snow (50%)
- Dealing with cold weather (40%)
- Exercising or participating in winter sports (31%)
- Shopping (14%)
- Traveling (14%)
- Wrapping presents (7%)
- Other activities (2%)
Despite their pain, a majority of Americans would rather cast their attention on holiday chores, waiting to see their doctors after the holiday season is over. Women (45%) are more likely than men (39%) to ignore their pain until after the holiday season.
Americans are so reluctant to see a physician about their pain, that they’d rather do these holiday chores:
- Take down holiday decorations (55%)
- Shovel snow alone for 60 minutes (44%)
- Wait in line to exchange or return presents (33%)
Holiday season or not, the AOA says it’s important to talk to your doctor about the causes of your pain. Even though the holiday season can be stressful and hectic, brushing off pain can lead to even more pain.
“Pain may be unavoidable for many during the winter months, but it does not have to prevent people from enjoying the holiday season,” said Jennifer N. Caudle, an AOA board-certified family physician and assistant professor in the department of family medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey – School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford.
The survey also found that a third of Americans (33%) prefer over the counter (OTC) pain relievers over prescription medications (19%) if they were in pain.
The AOA Holiday Survey is based on email and online surveys of a nationally represented sample of 1,000 Americans aged 18 years and over.