Do Cold Temperatures increase Back Pain?
Cold Temperatures are associated with more back pain. While most of us believe that, there is some scientific data that suggests the statement is true. The Northeast has experienced a record cold winter, and I am sure many are tired of the effects of Old Man Winter. Unfortunately, the cold is associated with increased musculoskeletal complaints, and it may be more than the increase physical activities associated with dealing with the winter snow.
A 2013 Article from Sweden retrospectively looked at about 100k worker profiles from the 1970’s. It stratified the population interms of manual construction workers, versus foreman and office workers. It also stratified the location of the workers in terms of province locations from the north, to the warmer south. The study concluded that “Outdoor work in a cold environment may increase the risk of low back and neck pain.”
A February 2014 Study from Finland made a fascinating correlation of warmer weather inhabitants have a higher temperature threshold before reporting a musculoskeletal pain complaint. In other words, people who lived in warmer temperatures were more likely to complain of pain with a smaller degree of temperature change than the more hardy colder temperature dwellers. This seems to follow the stereotype of the more stoic, robust cold weather inhabitants. Still, the data did show that overall colder temperatures were associated with more musculoskeletal complaints, including spine pain.
Frankly, this data should be a great talking point to Southern Locations during these Winter months. “Come to the warmth, and relieve your back pains”. There is scientific data to support that statement!
- Burström L, Järvholm B, Nilsson T, Wahlström J. Back and neck pain due to working in a cold environment: a cross-sectional study of male construction workers. Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2013 Oct;86(7):809-13. PubMed PMID: 23001633