Back pain is one of the most common medical complaints people make in the United States. According to the World Health Organization, 33% of the people are affected by lower back pain and experience it at some point in their lifetime. Back pain can develop without a cause and can be identified with an imaging study or test. Back pain may be caused by muscle strain, ruptured disks, arthritis, osteoporosis, and skeletal irregularities. Cold weather can also aggregate back pain as the cold air associated with cold weather increases the pressure on the tissues surrounding the bones in the back.
The scientific research about cold weather causing back pain is conflicting. Some studies show that cold weather can worsen your back pain but has not been found to develop the particular condition whereas according to a study by Tuft University, cold weather worsens knee pressure in people with arthritis and can cause painful alterations in joint fluid thickness. The nerves become extremely sensitive during the winter and the nerves surrounding your muscles get tense.
Cold weather causes the tissues to shrink. The drop in atmospheric pressure holds the tissues back, causing inflammation of the swelled tissues which leads to back pain. Cold weather also causes your muscles to contract and firms them up. The back pain may come from stressed muscles surrounding your nerves and trapped nerves inside your body. The moisture and cold air with a severe drop in barometric pressure can have significant effects on the muscles and joints of entire body.
People who are emotionally or physically stressed may be affected by the weather changes more than others. People with chronic conditions will be under more pain during the winter. Some studies have shown an accelerating relationship between winter and arthritis. High speed winds and wind gusts may slightly increase the risk of back pain but the level of increase is not significant.
Generally, the level of physical activity people get during the winters is less than usual. Limited physical activity causes the blood vessels in the hands and feet to constrict, decreasing the amount of available oxygen which results in joints and back pain. Cold weather can lead to muscle stiffness and spasms if you have multiple sclerosis. The change in temperature may heighten the level of back pain.
You can minimize back pain in cold weathers by stretching to relax your muscles by swimming in a heated pool, by bundling up to keep your nerves and muscles warm and by exercising indoors to prevent your muscles from getting stagnant. Make sure you keep yourself hydrated and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to keep your body warm and cope up with the cold weather.
Cold weather may also severely affect your mood. You may feel too depressed and lethargic to go out and do anything. Eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly may uplift your mood. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon and nuts, Vitamin K like kale, cabbage and spinach and Vitamin C like juicy peppers and tomatoes can reduce the pain that comes with arthritis. These factors contribute towards your back pain during the cold weather. Staying anxious or stressed may intensify your back pain.
Vitamin D also helps you keep the bones strong and prevent joint pain. Consult with your doctor and take regular vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D3 is produced by the body from the sunlight which you might not be receiving enough of during winters. Certain other supplements may also help lubricate the joints.
The body will move fluid from the joint into the circulation and the patient will feel a little less achy. The body adjusts to the physiological changes that occur in relation to these barometric changes and they will resolve with time.