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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Why do I experience (red hot burning) back pain in cooler temperture?

    I'm a 36yr old M with Scoliosis and Scheuermann's disease, I've lived with chronic pain almost constantly from age 14 which is being manage presently with daily exercises, swimming & walking and physeptone twice daily + panadol osteo and epelim.These combined help me for the most part manage day to day in controlling most of my pain through out the warmer parts of the year. How ever any quick drop or change in temperature I have unbearable pain the best I can describe it is as though if got a red hot poker placed in my spine around the t8 and than this sets of my muscles tighting and so on,The only similar pain I've experienced to compare for you is a migrian headache. My X-rays don't revile nerve damage. When I experience this nothing not even pain relief helps in the slightest do you have any thought of why this is and or any helpful advice? Your time is much appreciated and valued. Thanks
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • Dr Stephen Leow

    HealthShare Member

    The pain sounds neuropathic. What is the distribution of the pain? Does it follow a spinal nerve? Is it only on one side?

    I can think of 2 causes of this pain. The first is that the cold sets off inflammation in the back which then invoives the nerve. It would not show up on investigations like XRays or CT Scans, as it is inflammatory in nature. The second possibility is that there is preexisting damage to the nerve and you have a condition of sensitisation called “Allodynia” in which a no noxious stimulus can cause pain.

    The are needs to be examined for a neurological deficit when you are NOT having the pain. If there IS, the the second cause you be more likely. If there ISN'T, then the first cause is more likely. The treatment would be to either prevent or lessen the inflammation, with Non Steriodal Anti Inflammatory Medicine or to use an agent for neuropathic pain, depending on the diagnosis.

  • 1


    Neil Synnott

    Exercise Physiologist, Physiotherapist

    I am qualified as a PHYSIOTHERAPIST and ACCREDITED EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGIST.I primarily use the McKENZIE METHOD for assessment and management of musculoskeletal pain disorders. The McKENZIE … View Profile


    You mention you have Sheurmann's disease. There are structural changes to your spine, with likely the most loading through the thoracic spine - likely at, as you mention,T8.

    The burning pain in colder weather may be related to local nerve impingement. The pain may be increased due to sensitisation of the nerve from you having Sheurmann's for several years. This is the allodynia (increased pain to another wise ‘normal’ stimulus) that Dr Leow mentioned.

    Even though you can localise the pain, the spine is a ‘chain’ and improving mobility of as much of the spine as possible is likely to help. You mentioned exercises… what have you been advised to do? There are three stretches that are likely useful - cervical retraction, thoracic extension and lumbar extension.. You can look these up. A McKenzie trained physiotherapist would be able to help you with these.

    Another important strategy is supported posture. Use of a pillow or lumbar roll in the small of the back when sitting helps to alleviate ‘pressure’ on the painful area, helping to reduce sensitisation of the nerves.

    Any further questions, I'm happy to help.

    Regards, Neil

  • Dr. Melinda Ricci has a passion for optimizing health and preventing injury. Success Chiropractic has a Pediatric treatment facility, remedial massage, yoga and pilates classes … View Profile

    I agree with the above advice, however another cause to be consider would be dysfunction in one of the posterior rib joints. This condition tends to be more prevelant during colder months, perhaps related to an increase in coughing due to common colds.  If the pain is exasperated by taking a deep breath than a rib restriction is a possiblity.  This condition is easily treated however it does tend to reoccur.

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