Column Why does back pain worsen with cold weather and during the rainy season?
October 13, 2023
We often hear patients say that their back pain gets worse during the rainy season, or that they always suffer from a sore back during the cold season, but why exactly does back pain increase during these specific periods?
The real reasons behind why back pain is more likely to occur during the rainy season and in cold weather
The main reasons for getting back pain during the rainy and cold season include changes in atmospheric pressure and temperature, as well as the added sensitivity of the body to cold.
Changes in atmospheric pressure
The field of medical meteorology has conclusively shown that pain is intensified by the changes in the atmospheric pressure.
When the atmospheric pressure decreases, the sympathetic nervous system gets overstimulated and adrenaline secretion from the adrenal medulla increases. This sympathetic excitation causes the peripheral blood vessels to constrict, resulting in ischemia in tissues, a decrease in oxygen concentration, and a drop in pH, which in turn increases the sensitivity of pain-sensing fibers to local pathological changes, which has been known to worsen pain. *1
* Reference 1: Jun Sato, “Possible mechanism of weather-related pain” “Pharmacia”, Vol. 41, No. 3, 2005.
Since the sympathetic nervous system is involved in changes in pain caused by the atmospheric pressure, pain enhancement may begin even before the approach of a low-pressure front and continue well after the barometric pressure has returned.
Changes in Temperature
Sudden changes in temperature may also be a contributing factor to increased lower back pain.
During the rainy season, it gets hot and humid, and the temperature rises, but inside rooms and cars are cooled by air conditioning. The body, wet with sweat from the heat outside, is exposed to the cold air from the air conditioner, and cold drinks can cool the body in depth.
In cold weather, the body gets warmed up by indoor heating, and then when one goes outside, the temperature is much cooler.
Muscle tension rises when the body is cold, increasing the risk of back pain.
How to deal with back pain during the rainy season and cold weather
One of the reasons why back pain worsens during the rainy season and cold weather is the change in air pressure and temperature, but we cannot control the air pressure, can we?
So, is it inevitable that back pain will worsen at such periods?
Well, the short answer is that it doesn’t have to be this way.
You can avoid compounding back pain if you make your body less dependent on changes in air pressure and temperature, that is to say, in making your body less susceptible to the weather.
Keeping the body warm and preventing it from losing its heat
When the atmospheric pressure drops significantly and the sympathetic nervous system takes over, the blood vessels tend to constrict, resulting in poor blood circulation. When the blood flow is reduced, pain is more likely to occur.
That is why it is important to warm up the body , and to warm your body thoroughly by taking a bath before going to bed.
As a result of warming the body, the parasympathetic nervous system will take over again, blood flow is improved, until finally pain is alleviated.
After taking a hot bath when it is cold outside, make sure to keep your body warm when coming out of the bath to prevent your body from getting cold again too soon after.
Moderate exercise and stretching
Daily exercise and stretching in moderation may also help to reduce pain.
Aerobic exercise such as walking or cycling improves blood flow in the body, making it easier to alleviate pain.
However, exercise levels should be kept within a reasonable range, as doing so while in pain will only aggravate it.
Stretching may also promote blood circulation in the muscles.
Getting enough quality sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep is another way to deal with back pain.
One of the main contributing factors to back pain is the fact of turning over excessively in bed. Turning in bed helps in evenly distributing body pressure and muscle movements, which in turn helps in preventing muscles from tightening. This tossing and turning around is only possible during non-REM sleep, or deep sleep.
To increase non-REM sleep, it is necessary to exercise moderately as mentioned above, and it is also important to create a relaxing environment, avoid caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes before bedtime, as well as to avoid watching TV, computers, and smartphones before bedtime.
If you already have back pain, you must also address its root cause
You may well make your body less dependent on changes in air pressure and temperature and avoid worsening back pain during the rainy and cold seasons, but if you already have back pain, it will be difficult to recover completely without first dealing with the condition that causes the back pain in the first place, such as a herniated intervertebral disc.
Our clinic offers the Cellgel method, a treatment to repair damaged intervertebral discs.
With our Cellgel method, we inject a drug that fills in the cracks in the disc, which then becomes a gel and replaces the cracks, thus providing a fundamental cure. It is characterized by the fact that the volume of the disc is not reduced, and the drug remains in the disc as a gel-like implant after treatment, thus preserving the disc.
If you are suffering from back pain, please consider coming for a consultation at our clinic.