There are several reasons for hot and cold treatments, and they’re used for treating any form of swollen joints, muscle sores, or bruising. It’s simple, safe, cheap, and eco-friendly for anyone to reduce pain and get relief. They have no harmful effects and risks that can come with many different treatments. However, cold or heat therapy is not as effective in some ways. But the choice between ice or heat for back pain treatment can be difficult. However, this article walks you through this process to help you decide on which treatment to take to relieve your back pain.
What are the medical conditions that benefit from therapy of ice or heat for back pain?
There are copious medical conditions that need cold and heat therapy to reduce pain, swelling, and redness. The following conditions are given below:
- Degenerated Disc
- Spinal stenosis
- Sports injuries
- Lifting heavy weights
- Wrong movements
- Overdoing of exercises
You should apply The ice and heat packs for 15 to 20 minutes and a gap of 2 hours minimum there to avoid skin and nerve damage.
What is better for back pain, heat or cold?
Lower back pain has become a common issue. The people who are involved in heavy work often deal with back issues. Many still wonder whether it applies to cold or hot applications for back pain. It depends on the time of back pain and the level of severity.
It would help if you were unclear on how we can decide when to apply packs of ice or heat for back pain.
Well! I will try to give you all the answers from this blog.
In short, if your pain lasts for less than four weeks, it counts as acute pain. On the other hand, chronic pain stays for more than 4-weeks.
If we consider the types of pain, then we can conclude that:
- Acute pain – Cold Therapy
- Chronic pain – Low-level Heat Therapy
When to use cold therapy for back pain?
- Use cold therapy when your back pain is acute in less than four weeks.
- It reduces the body temperature, which helps to narrow down the blood vessels, swelling, and inflammation that results in numbing effects.
- If you are a fitness freak and you like to try different exercises. Therefore to reduce the soreness of muscles, apply cold therapy just after the exercise.
- In this case, cold therapy is used immediately after the injury to reduce inflammation, pain, and redness.
- If you are in pain due to sciatica, cold compress is the best method to reduce pain in the lower back, buttocks, and legs.
- Suppose you lifted any heavyweight who has sprained your back. The cold pack best relieves acute pain within two days of injury.
How to apply ice for back pain?
There are two ways of applying ice to the affected area are:
You can gently rub a chunk of ice over the affected area to numb your back and reduce the pain.
Ice without Massage Therapy
You can apply cold gels by covering them in a towel or thin washcloth. Place it on the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes.
When to use heat therapy for back pain?
- Heat therapy depends upon the type of pain.
- As explained earlier, chronic pain lasts for four weeks. It is recommended to use heat that helps to relax muscles and decrease pain signals.
- Once the inflammation subsides after cold therapy, heat is used to improve the flexibility of soft tissues, muscles movements, and the back’s general functionality.
- This is true heat dilates the blood vessels, improving the affected area’s circulation and bringing the nutrients for the healing process.
How to apply heat for back pain?
There are many ways in which you can have heat therapy, for example:
Electricity is required to heat the pad and allows you to control and set the temperature.
A hot water bottle or bag
Wrap a thin washcloth when applying a hot water bottle on the back.
If you are dealing with back pain, having a hot water shower is good for relaxing the muscles and flexibility.
You can wear heat wraps to reduce the chance of heat loss from the skin.
Can I combine the therapy of ice or heat for back pain?
Here are some remedies that help relieve your back pain every day. And also, you can protect yourself from any severe pain and emergencies.
- If you have back pain in the early morning, heat patches can be used to warm up your back.
- If you are done with your heavy work or exercise, use cold patches before bed.
- In chronic pain, use heat therapy before and after walking up.
- In case of any emergency, it is better to carry ice and heat patches in the bag for immediate relief.
Contraindications of using therapy of ice or heat for back pain
There are some conditions in which one should completely avoid using ice and heat therapy on the affected area. The list is given below:
- Open wounds
- When the fluid oozes
- Multiple sclerosis
- Poor circulation
- Spinal cord injuries
- Diabetes mellitus
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Excessive burns
- Skin ulceration
- Increased inflammation
Also Read: What causes Back Pain when Breathing?
Precaution and safety tips while using therapy of ice or heat for back pain
A few things must be kept in mind before ice and heat therapy. Let’s first start with heat therapy.
What to keep in mind during heat therapy
- In the case of heat therapy, always use warm water rather than hot water.
- If you use too hot water, it may lead to burning.
- Check the temperature before applying it to the affected area.
- Always wrap a thin cloth or towel to protect the skin, as it is a barrier.
- Do not apply directly on the skin.
- If you have an infection, it is much more likely to spread infection through the heat.
What to keep in mind during ice therapy
- Check the temperature before applying the cold application.
- Always wrap a washcloth and towel to protect the skin.
- Excessive colds can damage the skin, tissues, and nerves.
- If you have cardiovascular problems, consult a doctor before applying ice packs.
Also Read: Understanding Back Pain: Causes and Preventive Measures.
Frequently Asked Questions –
Which ice or heat therapy is better for herniated discs?
You should use an ice pack within 24 hours of injury. After that, you can use heat compression to improve healing.
What is the other fastest method to relieve back pain?
There are additional therapy that also relieves your pain is
How long should you leave the heat and ice pack on the skin?
It is important to know that we can leave the ice for 20 minutes. However, 15 minutes is the maximum time for heat therapy.
The usage of ice and heat therapy shows effective results in users. In addition, for some conditions like back pain, we can use both therapy ice or heat for back pain. Nonetheless, if anyone does, this therapy makes your condition worse. Then it is better to visit a doctor.
You can also book your appointment with a back pain doctor at Credihealth, where you can explore good treatment options.