How To Help Your Back This Winter
The Human body is blessed with the intrinsic ability to adjust with the changing climate. There is a chance that you may get some health-related issues or back problems in winter, especially if you have been affected by a backache earlier in your life too.
Winter may trigger the following problems:
Every person is prone to be affected with hypothermia (low body temperature) in the winter season, especially the older of us because there is reduced sensitivity to the changing temperature. Reduced body temperature causes vasoconstriction and decreased blood supply to back muscles, tendons and ligaments, liver, kidney, gastrointestinal and other accessory organs adversely affecting the functions of these organs.
2) A backache
It is a common problem faced in the winter by a large number of people. A backache is one of the leading causes of visiting a doctor. The reason behind this is, tendons, muscles and ligaments in the back become tightened due to the reduced blood supply and the effect of the cold. Think about it – what happens to water for example in the cold. If cold enough it becomes ice. The human body is no different and synovial fluid for example is affected by the cold.
Sciatica is also a common problem encountered in the winter season. It is a severe stabbing pain in the lower back and can radiate in the buttocks and one or both legs. The Sciatic nerve has 5 nerve roots that originate in the lumbar spine. If any of the nerve roots gets compressed ‘sciatica’ may develop. In winter, there is a higher chance for the sciatic nerve roots to be pressed or injured because inter-vertebral discs may be swollen, due to tighter muscles, ligaments etc, and exert pressure on the sciatic nerve.
This is also an adverse effect of the winter season specifically occurring in the people already with nerve problems. Thus you feel tingling sensations in different body parts. The reason being is that nerves also become swollen or injured in winter causing numbness, tingling and aches in all over the body.
5) Neck Rigidity
You may also feel stiffness or pain in your neck due to the cold. Pay attention to maintain your correct spinal posture while reading, dishwashing , watching TV or during other routines tasks.
Research suggests that cold climate enhances the pain in the knee, hip joint, and other body joints because barometric changes cause the thickness of the joint fluid changing in normal morphology of joints.
Causes Of Back Problems In Winter Season
1) Lack of exercise One of the most common causes attributed to back problems in winter is lack of daily exercise due to sluggishness. This causes reduced blood supply in all muscles which can become taut as a result.
2) Dark, gloomy days cause depression Long, dark and cold nights, gloomy days without adequate sun exposure in the winter can cause marked depression which causes a change in the neurotransmitters. The nerves of your back do not get adequate neurotrophins, inadequately supplying muscles which become taut and spastic causing backache.
3) Barometric changes It is proven from various researches that pressure changes in cold climate causes intervertebral disc compression and reduces its shock absorption capability. The spine cannot tolerate strains, and you may feel a severe backache.
4) Vasoconstriction Blood vessels constrict in the cold for the preservation of heat in the body. This is an important mechanism of thermoregulation, but the drawback is that blood supply reduces to accessory organs like liver, kidney, pancreas, Gastrointestinal as well as to the spine itself and muscles and ligaments of the spine. Thus inflammation occurs in them, and one feels a stabbing pain in the back or buttocks.
Prevention and Treatment
Here are some tips to avoid pain this winter:
1: Keep yourself warm. Wear many layers of clothing instead of one single thick layer. Use a thick blanket while sleeping. Turn up the heating to warm your house.
2: Always use good footwear in winter which prevents your feet from cold. Your shoes should not be slippery so that you reduce the chance of having a fall.
3: Keep yourself active so that your metabolism remains boosted.
4: Take regular exercise so that your back muscles attain maximum flexibility.Go swimming. It is proven from researches that water during swimming removes extra stress from your back muscles.
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