The Cold and Pain
Cold temperatures are often associated with an increase in back pain. While only some 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 it. Unfortunately, the cold is associated with increased musculoskeletal complaints, and it may be more than the increased physical activities associated with dealing with the winter snow.
A Swedish study on “Spine pain and the colder temperature” 2013 Article from Sweden retrospectively looked at about 100k worker profiles from the 1970’s. It stratified the population in terms 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 Finnish study on “self-reported temperature related aches and pains” February 2014 Study from Finland made a fascinating correlation that 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 head south during these winter months. “Come to the warmth, and relieve your back pains”.
- Pienimäki T, Karppinen J, Rintamäki H, Borodulin K, Laatikainen T, Jousilahti P, Hassi J, Näyhä S. Prevalence of cold-related musculoskeletal pain according to self-reported threshold temperature among the Finnish adult population. Eur J Pain. 2014 Feb;18(2):288-98. PubMed PMID: 23881586