Tips for Managing Chronic Pain When You Have Cold Agglutinin Disease

Emily Malcolm, PhD avatar

by Emily Malcolm, PhD |

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Cold agglutinin disease is a rare acquired autoimmune disorder in which exposure to cold temperatures (between 32 to 50 F) causes autoantibodies to attack and destroy the patient’s own red blood cells, resulting in anemia. As a result, patients may experience chronic pain.

The following are some tips, besides pain medications, for managing chronic pain.


Light to moderate exercise can improve blood flow to the muscles and reduce pain. Exercise can also trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkiller.

Heat packs

Patients with cold agglutinin disease should avoid using ice to treat bruises or aches because ice can cause clumping or aggregation of red blood cells, triggering anemia. Instead, heat packs are recommended to help increase blood flow and ease aches.


Some patients may benefit from acupuncture performed by a trained acupuncturist. During acupuncture, fine needles are inserted at various points throughout the body to stimulate the release of endorphins.

Massage therapy

Massage therapy by a trained therapist can release muscle tension and help treat some forms of chronic pain.


Stress, anxiety, and depression are associated with chronic pain. Trained psychotherapists and psychologists can teach coping strategies to help patients to improve their sleep, and reduce anxiety and stress, which can, in turn, reduce pain.

Stress management

Techniques to reduce stress include:

Patients will not find every technique useful but many may discover a combination of techniques effectively helps to manage their pain levels. Discuss with your doctor what techniques may be right for you.


Last updated: Sept. 24, 2019


Cold Agglutinin Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.