Avoiding Winter Related Aches and Pains


It’s that time of year again when we dig our snow shovels out of storage and exchange our shorts for snow suits. While the holiday season is certainly one of the most magical times of the year, frigid temperatures and snow-filled driveways can also make this season one of the toughest on our backs.

When shoveling those snowy driveways and sidewalks this winter, don’t forget to wear well-supported shoes with good traction to reduce the risk of a fall. Also, when lifting heavy snow, don’t forget to bend your knees and keep your back straight. If you must turn, pivot with your feet and do not twist your back.

If you do experience some extra aches and pains this season, here are also a few tips to help you find needed relief:

  1. Apply cold. Icing the area for 15 to 20 minutes every 3 to 4 hours can reduce pain and swelling.

  2. Apply heat. For chronic pain and stiffness, applying heat to the area can increase blood flow and relax the muscles. Apply heat to the area for 20 minutes and then let the site rest for 20 minutes. Alternating heat and cold can also be soothing and beneficial to areas of inflammation. 

  3. Compress. Applying braces and elastic bandages can help add support and minimize swelling. 

  4. Elevate. For pain in an extremity, positioning the injured area above the level of the heart when sitting or lying down can reduce inflammation. 

  5. Stretch and strengthen. Gentle mobility can stimulate healing and, when tolerated, exercising can increase flexibility and muscle strength. 

  6. Medicate. Taking Tylenol® and/or anti-inflammatory medications (after consulting with a physician) can also help reduce pain. 
The specialists at AGH’s Pain Management Center are here to help if you do experience back pain this holiday season. AGH’s Pain Management Center is staffed by a board certified and fellowship trained pain management physician who uses a balanced approach to care. Call (269) 686-4300 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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