People who have undergone a spinal fusion or had metal implants placed in their spine commonly complain of pain during the colder months of the year. This occurs because metal loses heat more quickly than natural tissue and, if it does, the nerves surrounding the device can get cold as a result and cause pain.
While most interbody devices are not supposed to conduct heat or get cold, the simple fact of the matter is that these items are not made of living tissue and therefore react differently to changing temperatures.
These implants have no method of regulating their temperature, like most of the natural structures in our body, and are dependent solely on outside forces.
For example, have you ever touched a metal pole during the winter time? Have you noticed how much colder it is than your body? Now what would happen if you wrapped your hand around that pole and left it there for a really long time? The pole might warm up a little bit, but it’s more likely the temperature in your hand would drop first because the metal is taking your heat so quickly.
The same concept applies to implants. If you allow the metal to get cold, it can be difficult to warm it back up again and it will likely start lowering the temperature of the tissue and nerves surrounding it which can cause anything from mild to severe back pain.
Metal Implants Can Hurt during cold weather
It’s important to note that the location of the metal interbody device certainly plays a role in whether or not you feel it significantly during the colder months of the year.
People whose device is simply covered by skin or a thin layer of soft tissue are much more likely to experience aching and pain when they allow it to get cold.
Nevertheless, anyone with a metal interbody devices should take extra steps during the fall and winter to make sure they keep the location of the implants warm and toasty!