What Causes Shivers Down the Spine?

Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: June 4, 2014

shiverHave you ever felt a shiver or a tingling feeling move down your spine – perhaps while watching a horror movie? You are not alone. The spinal “shiver” is a common occurrence that most people have experienced but few understand. So what exactly causes a shiver down the spine? Does everybody get them? Why do they happen at all? These are precisely the questions we aim to uncover in this article.

The Reason for Shivers

The reason we as humans experience shivers is very scientific in nature. Shivers are an evolutionary advantage we gained from our animal ancestors. A shiver is almost always accompanied by the appearance of goose bumps, as well as raised arm hair. In our predecessors, this was due to one or more of the following factors:

  1. Weather & temperature changes. A cold gust of wind raises hair and provides increased insulation, which was especially important to an animal trying to do nothing more than survive.
  2. Emotional triggers. Goose bumps, shivers, and raised hair appear when we are afraid, for example. This is the body warning us that something is not right. The raised hair would also act as an intimidation tool for our much hairier ancestors so that they could try to out-scare whatever predator was scaring them.

Other Types of Shivers

These shivers that we inherited from our ancestors are quite common and nothing to worry about from a medical standpoint. However, there are other types of shivers that can be cause for alarm. Violent shivers, tremors, or shivering that does not go away could all be indicative of other underlying infections or diseases. If you experience any involuntary shivers that last a long time or cause you pain, see your physician immediately to diagnose and treat the condition.

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