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We’ve all certainly felt the chill in the weather, especially over the last few days. The biting cold on the way to work is heralding the arrival of another winter. After just arriving back in London after two months in Australia I have definitely been digging out the winter woollies and heavy coats, cranking up the heaters and curling up on the sofa with a hot chocolate.

But how does the drop in temperature affect those of you with back pain?

While there is no scientific evidence that back pain is worse in the colder months, anecdotally I hear from many patients that they feel their pain worsens with the cold weather. So why might this be the case?

An explanation may be that during winter we tend to be a lot less mobile, I know I tend to huddle up on the sofa and curl into my winter coat when forced to brave the elements. Many people walk around during winter with rounded backs and elevated shoulders. As we know mobility and good posture are two keys to maintaining good spinal health. So being less active and hunching over in the cold could very well have aggravated your back pain.

A second explanation may be that while the actual temperature outside cannot cause back pain or worsen your condition it may aggravate the symptoms of your pre-existing back pain. Symptoms such as pain and swelling may become worse with colder weather. This may be due to a change in the atmospheric pressure as the thermometer drops. A decrease in temperature also causes a decrease in atmospheric pressure. Decreased pressure in the body means that the tissues such as muscles can expand and press on the joints causing pain.

 Tips to looking after you back in the winter months include:

  • Making sure you are wearing appropriately warm clothing – lots of layer and salves to protect your neck are important.
  • Heat packs and patches when used safely can help with localised relief.
  • Indoor stretching and strengthening – this requires little to no equipment and can be done in a small space.

So make sure you look after you back this winter and don’t forget to pop in to Richmond Osteopaths for more advice and ideas on how to best maintain your back pain through the colder months.

written by Nicolette Gygi