Clinics packed with patients who are in pain of old injuries often signify the change of seasons. Those who suffer from chronic lower back pain or spinal disc herniation are especially sensitive to the temperature drop.
A recent report from the Centre for Health Protection has highlighted the lack of physical activities among Hong Kong people. Together with their prolonged use of digital devices and improper gestures, more and more young adults are suffering from back pain, with winter being a peak season for them to reach out for help.
People like to snuggle indoors during cold weather but our bodies are designed to move around instead of staying stagnant.
When we sit in front of our computers or mobile devices for a long period of time, certain parts of our muscles and joints will be tightened, weakening our blood circulation. If the temperature drops suddenly, our strained and worn-out muscles might hurt out of the blue due to muscle tightness or spasms.
Another reason for recurring backaches during winter is the low moisture in the air. Our muscles are mainly made up of water and they get tightened up and easily wounded when the body is dehydrated.
Most patients experience slight pain while some may feel numb or feeble, affecting their normal activities and work. If the pain is associated with spinal disc herniation, it is likely to get worse so patients are advised to visit the doctor as soon as possible.
Those who ache with old injuries should get well-prepared in times of changing weathers.
First of all, they should keep themselves warm, especially around their once injured parts, during cold weather. Women who have previously suffered from back pain should give up wearing low-waist pants. Those with neck pain should keep a scarf handy and wrap themselves up whenever necessary.
A daily treatment with a hot towel, warm heating pad, heat patch or heat blanket on vulnerable areas for 20 to 30 minutes can improve blood circulation and relax the muscles.
It is also good for everyone to do stretching and cardio exercises to activate the muscles and joints.
Most importantly, if a pain or symptom is chronically experienced during a change of seasons, patients should seek professional help for a thorough checkup and appropriate measures.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec 18
Translation by John Chui
[Chinese version 中文版]
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