Back pain is something that we all experience at a certain point in our lives; be it a teenager who just pulled an all-nighter trying to do his homework, to a middle-aged guy who just twisted his body a little too much trying to get out of the car; save for the elderly, who, by default, suffer from back pains, occasional back pains are something every one of us has experienced.
And while they are usually accompanied by a precursor, sometimes they happen out of the blue, like in the winters. So, we try to tackle the question that many have asked before us: can a cold cause back pain? Although this may seem unlikely, yes, there are many incidents where a sudden change in the ambient temperature has contributed to a situation wherein a person starts to experience back pain.
In short, yes, cold could cause back pain, but not directly, rather indirectly, considering that only in extreme physiological cases is it possible that a normal stimulus could trigger an exaggerated reaction from the body. This condition, known as allodynia, is a pretty rare condition, considering not many cases have been reported and the only famous case was of the industrialist Howard Hughes, who reportedly also suffered from other afflictions.
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But other than that, cold weather really does not have much to do with back pain. However, if you chop wood for heat during the winters and you experience back pain commonly associated with lumberjacks, then, you could say that cold caused your back pain, but that wouldn’t really be true.
But nonsensical banter aside, there have been reports of people regularly suffering from back pain induced by cold weather. Now whether this is caused by the cold weather itself, or its something else, but the pain is there, and it occurs in the cold. So now that we’ve got our two major factors, lets get on to explaining why this happens.
Why Does My Back Hurt When I Have a Cold?
Well, it could not just be the weather, but many times, a rhinovirus is also called a cold, as in catching a cold, so this could be the reason for your back pain. Well, let’s just assume that that is the case, and that back pain during cold is something that that you experience while suffering from a runny nose. In that case, the back pain is most likely due to the phlegm that is stuck in your chest cavity, which could cause irritation and pain,
with the latter radiating towards your back, manifesting as back pain. So, yes, technically, the answer to the question why does my back hurt when I have a cold is that pain radiates within the body and the areas in the vicinity of the place affected, and as such, what pains your chest can also be misconstrued as back pain. There, mystery solved.
Now, onto cold weather and back pain.
Weather – Can a Cold Cause Back Pain?
Medically speaking, the probability that cold has directly affected the body to cause back pain is next to zero. But since next to zero means one, there is a possibility that cold weather and back pain might be related: through decreased tendon and muscle movement.
To explain this further, we shall now understand some basic physiology to unearth the connection between back pain and cold weather. Our body’s normal temperature is 37° C (98.6 F), which is conducive for the body’s internals to operate efficiently on. This is of course regulated by the brain, and is affected by a number of outside factors, of which weather is the most significant one.
Which explains why we sweat during summers and have the tendency to overeat during winters, since the body cools itself down by sweating and to generate more heat during the winters, the body needs more fuel, which is, of course, food. So, any drop in the temperature can cause slowing of the bodily functions, which of course include muscles and tendons.
Now, the back muscles are connected to the vertebral column via tendons, which can get hard during the winters, which could explain why winters could cause back pain. The tendons have limited movability, and the muscles stay contracted to reduce surface heat loss, which explains why moving them excessively could cause the muscles and tendons to wear out, causing back pain. This is one of the causes of back pain during winters.
Back Pain Due to Cold Air
Now that we know that there is actually a connection between the two, back pain due to cold air is something that many older people complain about. That’s not anything against them, but rather it is the physiology. You see, people of the advanced age have less strengthened bones, with the majority of them suffering from osteoporosis and other afflictions of the skeletal system.
This also affects the joints, which help explain why back pain due to cold air is such an issue. The vertebral column is a series of bones connected to each other via joints, and when cold air hits the back or even if the ambient temperature of the room is down than that of the body, the joints stiffen up and expand, causing pain in places where they are located, which presents itself as back pain. So, yes, back pain due to cold air is possible and should be rectified with warm clothing and proper diet which includes fats and calcium, that can help with the joints.
Cold Weather And Back Pain: The Connection
The connection lies in both the vertebral column and the muscles surrounding it and connected to it. These two are both affected by the cold, especially the muscles, since they tend to contract when temperatures are low, causing discomfort and pain in the muscles constituting the back, which is picked up by the brain as back pain. Similarly, the vertebral column is a rack of bones connected together by the means of many joints; these are the same joints notorious for flaring up and paining due to inflammation when weather changes,
which is why sometimes the back pain can be characterized as being ‘deep within the bone’. This is because the joints, which expand during cold weather, Can a Cold Cause Back Pain? since there is only so much room for them to expand. When this happens, the remedy is to usually apply a back ointment, which helps maintain the temperature and use warm clothing, since the body will then be able to better maintain its own temperature and the joints won’t flare up and pain during the winter season.