Why does the cold weather increase arthritic symptoms such as low back pain?
Many patients often ask why pain gets worse during the winter months. Studies have been conducted to find the correlation of weather and arthritic pain but results are always inconclusive. The fact is, cold weather seems to affect patient’s pain.
Here’s what we know; when it’s cold, we stay inside, become less active, and stiffen up and contract our muscles more often and intensely to stay warm. All of these things can flair up back pain. In fact it’s the exact opposite that we recommend for our patients. We encourage activity, exercise, and physical therapy. We encourage stretching and staying loose.
So what’s the solution… move south? Obviously living in the Midwest, we know the weather can change drastically. Heavy snows, cold temperatures, and ice storms can make it very tough to get around. At Prairie Spine and Pain Institute, we encourage our patients to increase their home exercise programs, preferably inside to avoid the dangers of potential falls and such outside.
Joints and muscles do not like to be kept in a cold static state. Muscles will tighten and contract causing tightness and spasm. Nerves can be irritated due to the shrinking of tissue caused by cold temperatures. Trying to stay active, flexible, and loose during the winter months can drastically cut down the waxing and waning symptoms. Bundling up to stay warm can also help. Using things like heating pads certainly have their benefit as well. Heating pads work by increasing circulation to the affected areas.
At Prairie Spine, we get you back in control of the pain. Waiting for the weather to change is not an option. Education is the first step. If you’re having problems getting through the cold months, come see us at Prairie Spine and Pain Institute.
About The Author: Derek N. Morrow, PA-C is a physician assistant with Prairie Spine and Pain Institute. Derek works in the clinic setting as a health care provider seeing patients. He is also utilized in the operating room as a first assist in surgery. In the clinic setting, his key function is to diagnose new patients and conduct their initial treatment. He works directly with patients to establish customized treatment programs and to monitor their progress. He also conducts history and physical evaluations for many patients. He performs many office procedures including trigger point injections, large joint injections, and bursa injections, all with the help of ultrasound guidance. He is radiologically trained, and uses his knowledge of X-ray, Ultrasound, MRI, CT, and EMG-Nerve Conduction Studies to establish a diagnosis and determine the appropriate treatment. Derek is surgically trained and plays a vital role in the procedures we perform at Prairie Spine and Pain Institute.