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Ask Dr. Nandi: Cold water could be the perfect cure for pain

Posted at 4:42 PM, Feb 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-19 16:41:54-05

It’s almost the end of February here in Detroit, and temperatures have been below freezing pretty consistently.

One of the last things most people would want to do at this time of year is taking a plunge into one of Michigan's many lakes or rivers - unless, of course, they’re in serious pain. 

A major medical journal recently published a story about a man who had severe nerve pain after surgery to his chest. The pain was so bad that he said it caused him a great deal of distress.

Regular therapy just made things worse, to the point that he didn’t even finish rehab. 

It turns out that this man was a triathlete, and he decided one day to take a swim in the cold ocean to get his mind off his discomfort. He jumped off a rock and swam around for less than a minute trying to find a place to scramble out.

He was so cold he thought he’d freeze. But when he got out, his pain was gone!

Doctors aren’t sure why this happened, and say more research is needed. But athletes have been taking cold water baths forever in order to ease their pain.

So if severe, chronic pain is a problem for you, consider taking a dip in some ice cold water. 

Just keep in mind these prescriptions if you do:

  1. Cold water saps body heat, leading to weaker arms and legs. Make sure you have a buddy around if you jump into deep water.
  2. Consider wearing a wetsuit if you plan to stay in for more than a minute or two. 
  3. Get into the cold water slowly instead of diving in so your body won’t be shocked by the dramatic temperature change. 
  4. In any large body of water, always swim close to shore.