As the year enters the winter months, you might know someone who has lamented that with the colder weather they have pain in their back or other regions that intensifies or “acts up.” This is a recurring condition that afflicts many people throughout the country. Fortunately, over the years there have been reliable means devised to combat this uptick in pain, and more people are able to take measures to mitigate and in some cases, prevent it altogether.
To begin with, it helps to try and understand where this back pain could be coming from. It is worth noting that amongst the medical community there is actually no definitive study or established explanation as to why this phenomenon occurs. However, there are a few prominent theories. One of the most common is a process called vasoconstriction, which is the idea that in colder weather the body will naturally draw more blood to the center of the body in an attempt to conserve heat by supporting essential organs like the lungs and heart. As a result of this reduced flow, the blood vessels in areas like the arms, legs, and back will constrict. And when the muscles and tendons in these areas get less blood, they can stiffen which will lead to aches and pains. This can be particularly felt in the back, when support for the spine stiffens up due to this vasoconstriction.
One somewhat contested theory is the effect of barometric pressure on the body, particularly during times of inclement weather. You may have heard someone claim they can tell when a storm is coming through pressure in their joints, or a “feeling” in their bones. While there is currently no established scientific study that confirms a corollary between a drop in pressure and back pain, generations have produced a considerable amount of anecdotal evidence suggesting a connection. As close as most experts can figure, when the barometric pressure drops due to an oncoming storm or change in temperature, there is actually less gravity to hold down or reduce swelling in joints already aggravated by a previous condition or injury. And if swelling is allowed to occur, this produces increased inflammation and pain in the affected areas.
So if we establish that cold weather seems to bring increased back pain for many people throughout the world, what can be done to solve this? Here are a few tips that can help you manage or avoid back pain when the weather turns cold: