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Pain in winter

Sydney had experienced some of the coldest days of recent years this winter. It just happens as I have noticed an increased number of patients coming to my clinic lately for back pain. Does cold weather cause more pain? What’s the relationship between temperature drops and flare ups of old injuries? With more winter to come still what can we do to keep pain away?

Like many with arthritis can “predict” changing of weathers accurately due to change in atmospheric pressure, it is believed that changing atmospheric condition can also cause pain. Atmospheric pressure, or barometric pressure, is the “weight” that surrounds our bodies, constantly “pushing” against it, keeping its shape and alignment. As seasons change, atmospheric conditions alter. Subtle changes happen inside our bodies too, for example, tissues could expand, pushing against nerve terminals, these then send distress signals to our brains known as pain. This is further compounded for people with chronic pain, as nerves can be particularly sensitised due to injury, tissue damage – inflammation. In addition, it is no secret that one tends to coil up and shiver in the cold, when muscles around aforementioned sensitive nerve endings contract and tense up, pushing against them, causing sites of old injury to flare up.

Cold nights, clear sky, any seasoned Sydneysiders will predict that it is going to be followed by a beautiful sunny day next up. While we get to make the most of the warmth in the sun, we will have to be alerted that big temperature swings usually catch a lot of people out cold, literally. As more of the population gets sick or simply carries illness, it is easier to contract pathogen. Many actually don’t get into full blown sickness immediately, if at all – introducing the unsung hero, our immune system. In addition to actively identify and eliminate threats, the immune system does a lot more, such as removing metabolic waste, ensuring essential biochemical reactions, such as ATP (energy) synthesis to take place efficiently to maintain cells healthy. Conversely, injured cells that already require a lot of attention from the immune system to heal, in a body that is struck with sickness would be even harder to heal.

So what can you do about preventing/ alleviate back pain during the cold of winter? Well, the first thing you can do is to keep warm. Make sure you wear appropriate clothing for the weather such as thick coats, gloves, and hats. Warm up before exercising, and tone it down gradually after you fininsh. It is also an good idead to always keep an extra layer handy, pull a jacket on after activities in the sun even though you still feel a bit warm. Keep home heated, take a minute to warm up the car in the morning before breakfast so when you actually drives, you step into a warm environment.

It is typical that when pain flares up, people often feel anxious and depressed. Learning how to improve your mood then, is important. It helpful to divide things into bite size pieces, learn how to pace yourself, and figure out how to improve your sleep. If distraction works for you, always have something to keep your mind occupied. Keep telling yourself winter will pass, and the pain is temporary.

Like many of my patients who walk out of my clinic with a smile on their faces, you may try Low Level Laser Therapy. As LLLT is getting more and more recognised, more and more people understand that it helps to manage pain through introducing photochemical reactions, actively helps to modulate ATP synthesis process to break the vicious cycle of cellular energy deficiency; consolidates immune system, helping it to protect you; and last but not the least helps to improve mood through Laser Acupuncture.

Wei Xing

With over 30 years experience in the industry Wei Xing has used her expertise and LLLT knowledge to treat patients with acute and chronic pain.

Deeply passionate about her patient’s health, Wei has made it her mission to alleviate discomfort and suffering from her patients so that they may enjoy a more active lifestyle.

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