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Why does back pain get wors...

Why does back pain get worse in winter?

By Patrick Shaughnessy - Physiotherapist,

With today being 6 weeks to Christmas eve, winter is well and truly here. The clocks have gone back, the mornings are darker, and we all leave work in darkness now as the sun is setting by 5pm. With all the excitement of Christmas, the one present nobody wants to receive this year is – back pain.

I’ve already answered numerous questions from people on the aches and pains in their lower back that have suddenly developed in the past few weeks. The type of aches that suddenly get a bit more annoying, nagging and painful on a daily basis… a bit like what’s been happening to one of my aunts “Brenda”…

Brenda has suffered with a painful lower back for years now, as long as I can remember. Last Christmas her back got so bad, it stopped her from walking around the cemetery visiting all of the family headstones, something she does every Christmas day.

And because Brenda didn’t want her back pain to get in the way of her family tradition this year, she thought she’d book an appointment with her GP, who advised her lower back was tight and referred Brenda to a physio and also prescribed painkillers.

Brenda was given some exercises to do and sent on her way. This meant she never understood what was REALLY going on and why her back pain was still getting in the way and not allowing her to live her life and do the things she loves to do with her family.

So as well as doing exercises that weren’t even making a difference, Brenda also went out and bought a new orthopaedic memory foam mattress hoping that would fix the problem, as well as dosing up on strong painkillers for days…but no relief.

The problem is all they do is mask the pain, NOT take it away!

If you’re like Brenda and struggling to put your finger on why your lower back pain gets worse this time of year, or why it goes after you spend weeks or even months taking pain killers, but a few months later it returns, I can assure you, you’re not alone.

In fact, this is something that many men and women of all ages come to see us with at the clinic, for numerous reasons.

So what’s one of the reasons why your back pain gets worse around this time of year?

The long winter months and sustained periods of inactivity, mostly due to the cold wet weather and dark evenings which mean you don’t get out for your evening walk after work, can be the root cause of what I call sudden ‘lifelong back pain’.

If your muscles and joints get a long rest in the winter, there’s a chance they will grow weak and stiff by the time spring comes around when you feel like being more active. Worse again, the muscles supporting many joints, like the quadriceps supporting your knees, will waste daily whilst being inactive (read about this in our next blog).

And if you’ve not been as active as you were during the spring and summer time when it gets colder, then this could risk your back pain getting even worse!

 

Tip’s to help you avoid making this mistake

  • Seize any and every opportunity you have during the winter to get active and mobile
  • Wrap up warm and go for a 20 minute walk.
  • Walk with friends and grab a tea or coffee to keep you warm
  • Take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator at work or when out doing your Christmas shopping
  • Set a reminder to move and do a stretch every hour, even from your office chair

 

Don’t let back pain creep up on you this Winter

If Brenda’s story resembles yours, please get in touch with us and come to the clinic where we can offer hands on treatment, home winter exercise plans, advice and education on all back pain queries and we can avoid you having a story similar to Brenda’s on Christmas day!

 

Appointment Bookings

For appointment bookings for our Physiotherapy & Sports Therapists - please call Pall Mall Medical on 03300 58 44 55 or email gp@pallmallmedical.co.uk