Weather acting too cold?

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Weather acting too cold?

Tuesday, 11 January 2022 | DR SAURABH VERMA

Weather acting too cold?

With spine-chilling cold, blood flow in our body decreases. Apart from increasing the stiffness in muscles and joint, it increases the pressure in sciatica affected areas leading to severe pain, says DR SAURABH VERMA

Winters in Delhi can be a dreadful experience. Known for extreme climate, the winters in the national capital have always brought along its own set of problems – Rising pollution, heart problems, orthopedic issues, amongst other things. Muscle issues in winters can turn worse than usual owing to the lack of sunlight exposure to our skin which devoid us of Vitamin D, essential for bones and muscles to recuperate and stay strong.  

One such condition that tends to escalate during the cold months is sciatica. Sciatic nerve connects our lower back to our hips and buttocks down each leg. Sciatica is the pain along the path of the sciatic nerve. Usually, a person only feels the effects of sciatica on one side of the body. Since sciatica is caused when the sciatic nerve gets damaged or pinched, it can occur due to a tumor in that region. Herniated disc is one of the most common risk factors for sciatica.

The pain from sciatica starts from the lower back and goes to the back of your leg. The pain may vary and has a range that extends from mild pain to excruciating and unbearable type of pain. Physical movements are a must as restricting movements may cause the condition to get worse.

Risk factors

  • Age: As we grow older, the structure of our spine changes and may cause conditions like herniated disc.
  • Obesity: Weight increases the load that your back has to take and might aggravate any previous conditions.
  • Occupation: The studies aren’t verified on this but a job that puts strain on your back may be detrimental to your cause
  • Prolonged sitting: Active people have a less chance of developing sciatica than people with lesser work volumes.
  • Diabetes: Diabetes causes lasting nerve damage and may affect the sciatic nerve.

With the onset of winters, the blood flow in our body decreases because of the colder temperature this results in muscles tightening up. Apart from increasing the stiffness in muscles and joint, it increases the pressure in sciatica affected areas thereby increasing the pain.

There are other factors that may affect our bones and muscles and make them susceptible to sciatica related pain:

  • Since there is limited sunlight, limited Vitamin D is absorbed. Vitamin D is essential for the bones and muscles to develop and rejuvenate.
  • Colder weather and shorter days make it difficult to exercise and keep our bodies functional. Lack of exercise and physical movement propound back and leg issues.
  • During winters, some organs receive blood that is redirected from the limbs to keep them functioning efficiently. This increases the pressure on joints and ultimately leads to worsening of the condition.

Besides these physiological changes and natural limitations, if you notice the risk factors mentioned above, you will see that winter season is in some way or the other, heightens them, leaving us more susceptible to conditions like sciatica.

In almost all cases, sciatica is a reversible disorder, either through physical therapy or in worst case scenarios, surgery to relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve. However, there are a lot of ways in which people can ease the pain caused by the condition during the winters. Patients who suffer from sciatica must keep in mind that physical activity is essential to keep the condition from growing. Other than physical activities, patients may:

  • Wear warm clothes and keep themselves warm to regulate the blood flow to limbs and make sure there is no increased pressure in the sciatic nerve.
  • Keeping yourself hydrated is essential during the winters. People tend to drink less water during winters however, water helps avoid muscle cramps and helps you keep a positive attitude.
  • Use warm water baths or swimming pools to recuperate and relax your muscles.
  • Winter gloom may lead to lack of physical exercise. It is always advisable to keep yourself active during the winters in order to beat the heightened risk of muscle pain and heart problems.

Like mentioned above, winter might bring relief from the horrid summer heat, but they come with their own problems.

Sciatica symptoms get compounded in winter months and may lead to excruciating pain. It is advisable to follow healthy practices like the ones mentioned above and stay over the line in your attitude. Seek medical attention before the symptoms start getting out of control. A quick and subtle response may help you avoid further damage. It is essential to take care of our health to enjoy the winter cheer and festivities with our family and friends.


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