Have you ever heard someone say that their lower back pain gets worse during the summer and wondered whether there was truly a connection between heat and chronic back pain? Alternatively, are you already convinced that they are related and have you found yourself looking for ways to remedy the worsening back pain, during the summer? These are the questions that we decided to tackle in today’s article.
The hot weather and overpowering summer humidity can make it difficult for even the healthiest individuals to find comfort outdoors. However, if you have chronic back pain, not only does the hot weather spell general discomfort but it could also mean aggravating your lower back – even further. In this article, we discuss some of the reasons that hot weather exacerbates back pain, along with several ways to lessen the effects of extreme heat on your lower back.
How Summer Heat Can Make Back Pain Worse
It’s not just the temperature; changes in the barometric pressure and humidity levels may also lead to increased pain levels. For example, barometric pressure can activate lumbar pain. Likewise, it can also cause inflammation and pain for anyone experiencing disc problems. Furthermore, this pressure also impacts the soft tissues of your body. However, since your bones aren’t affected by changes in humidity; this disparity can lead to added tension between your spine and lower back muscles – ultimately triggering a heightened sense of pain.
According to USA Today, humidity impacts each of us differently. For instance, some back pain victims suffer from elevated pain levels during the fluctuations in humidity that often accompany the warmer months.
On the other hand, there are those who do not experience any change in their overall level of comfort — even in the most humid environments. If you happen to be affected by changes in barometric pressure and humidity, adjusting the humidity level in your home could offer much needed relief. A dehumidifier can remove excess moisture from the air during the hottest months and may ease your chronic back problems.
Six Ways to Avoid Back Pain During Periods of Extreme Heat
- Make Use of Your AC – Adjusting your air conditioner to a comfortable temperature setting can help control the temperature in your home, while ensuring that your back pain levels don’t elevate along with the summer heat. Of course, to learn which setting offers the most comfort, it helps to experiment with the thermostat. Likewise, if you need extra help staying cool, it may not hurt to add a few additional fans to your home.
- Engage in Cool Activities – If you find that movement eases your chronic back pain, then choose an indoor activity that you can enjoy– or add a swimming routine to your regimen of daily activities. Movement will help you stay limber and avoid the stiffness that you may experience due to inactivity. Additionally, a cool bath or shower can also help you stay comfortable during the summer.
- Stay Hydrated – Drinking extra water and staying hydrated can help you avoid the aches and pains that tend to be triggered by dehydration. Not a fan of drinking plain water? Iced tea, popsicles and any clear liquid can play a similar role in helping you to maintain a comfortable and pain free summer. Hot tea may help as well. While it may sound counterintuitive, researchers at the Smithsonian Institute have found that a cup of hot tea may actually lower your body temperature on a hot day – so drink up!
- Wear Comfortable Clothing – Choose heat-friendly fabrics that breathe and help you stay cool. Additionally, light colors are better than dark ones if you plan on spending time outside. Cotton and linen are naturally more comfortable in hot weather and will help to regulate your body temperature. Conversely, try to avoid silk and wool, both of these fibers actually retain body heat and will make you warmer.
- Lift Your Spirits – It can be depressing and even boring to stay indoors just to avoid the hot weather. The good news is that planning ahead by finding an entertaining book, movie or activity can help you avoid feeling left out or depressed about your chronic back pain.
- Be Active – At the Right Time – If you have activities that must be done outdoors or that require heavy exertion, it’s best to schedule them early in the morning or just before the sun goes down. Even on extremely hot days, the hours just after sunrise and before sunset will be cooler and more comfortable. Take advantage of the summer’s natural rhythm and carry out any strenuous tasks only during the coolest part of the day.
If you believe that the hot weather is intensifying your lower back pain, following the steps mentioned above may help. Additionally, just knowing that your pain is real and understanding the root causes of it can give you a healthy mental outlook — and make you feel better about staying indoors. Likewise, adjusting your activities to reduce your back pain should be a top priority during the hotter months and will help keep you healthy and pain free throughout the summer.
In any event, it is possible for you to still experience severe back pain — even after taking steps to cope with the hot summer temperatures. If this happens to you it may be time to consult your local physician.
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