If you struggle with sciatica and random flareups, you might have noticed already that you tend to feel stiff and experience painful sensations when the weather goes cold. You can almost feel the cold getting into the bones. Now, is there any science behind it? Is there a connection between sciatica and cold weather?
Most people suffering from sciatica have definitely noticed some changes during the wintertime. Some of them blame it on a placebo effect – it makes sense. Some others believe there is some science behind it. Where is the truth then?
Does cold weather affect sciatica?
There is obviously a connection between sciatica and cold weather. Not only can low temperatures trigger flareups or aggravate pains, but they can also cause sciatica in healthy individuals. There are certain things you can do to avoid such problems, so stick to a few basic rules and you should face no issues at all.
Sciatica and cold weather
There are more studies out there that prove a connection between sciatica and cold weather. Many of them were conducted in northern countries – mostly around Europe. It turns out that people tend to face more incidences of low pains compared to those living in warmer climates. So, how does it really work?
Discomfort is quite common in the cold. Your bones and muscles will hurt more. This is because such tissues tend to stiffen up when the temperature goes too low. Spine muscles follow the exact same rules – they can become tensed, but they also tighten. This extra tension makes the pain more excruciating. It also increases the risks of developing sciatica or facing further flareups.
The barometric pressure plays a significant role in the process. Whether the temperature goes low or a storm is coming up, air pressure will go down. Such changes affect most nerves, but especially the ones associated with the lower back. This is where the sciatic nerve is. If it is already sensitive, sciatica is only a few steps away.
The physical stress is not to be overlooked either. Even if you like to cuddle indoors at 25 degrees during the wintertime and you hate winter activities, you may still have to face the weather. You may still need to go shopping or shovel some snow. All these things can affect your spine, even if it is actually healthy. Every now and then, you may need to carry a heavy bag of rock salt to prevent slipping accidents. Plus, if you slip and fall, the stress is even more significant.
What to do about sciatica and cold weather
So, what can you do about sciatica and cold weather? How do you prevent potential issues?
Most importantly, try to keep warm. Get more layers and warm clothes. More layers of thin clothes can be better than a single thick sweater, for example. Focus on the lower back – the shirt should go into your pants. You do not want it getting out when you bend over. At night, get a few blankets – perhaps an electric one as well. It will prevent muscular tissues from tightening. Keep the home warm and run the car for a few minutes before stepping inside it.
Good shoes and boots are also mandatory. Not only do they keep you warm, but they also prevent potential falls. You can also invest in cleats if you live in an area that gets lots of snow.
If you have to shovel some snow, do it the right way. Start with a bit of stretching – around 10 minutes. Go slowly and never overload the shovel. Do not lift with the back, but with the legs. You would rather move less snow more times than a couple of overloaded shovels. Avoid twisting the back and face the direction where the snow goes. If you already suffer from sciatica and the pain has already installed, seek help from a friend or a family member.
Last, but not least, keep active. Activity is essential when dealing with sciatica. It feels like you should rest all the time, but this is highly contraindicated. Avoid gaining weight, watch your diet and perform regular exercises in a gym or inside your home.
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