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Are Ice Packs Good For Lower Back Pain

Best Ice Packs Are Pliable

Ice (Cold Pack) OR Heat? Best Back Fix For Your LOWER BACK PAIN

I love the fact that the ice pack is pliable. I have a very large ice pack and it covers a good portion of my back. When I use it, I fold it in half and tuck it under my low back. Typically when I ice, I do so for about 15 minutes at a time, so about halfway through , I flip the ice pack over and use the other side that has not been against my skin. The only reason I do this is that the side against my skin has warmed up and the other side is still much cooler.

I apply the ice pack directly to my skin and it never burns or sticks. I know this is not recommended, but it works for me :). I prefer a very cold ice pack for back pain and this allows me to get the area REALLY cold.

When To Use Both Heat & Ice Called: Contrast Therapy

You can use ice and heat separately, or in some cases, together, which is known as contrast therapy. The key to contrast therapy is to start with heat and finish with ice. This has to do with the dilation and constriction of blood flow to the injured area.

You want to start with dilating the blood vessels with heat, followed by constriction of blood vessels with the ice. This works to create a pumping effect. which promotes healing of the area. Contrast therapy is generally used after the first 72 hours, before you start to apply heat on its own.

Relieving Your Back Pain

When you are suffering from an ache or struggling to get lower back pain relief, it may seem difficult to take a proactive approach to the matter. However, alleviating such aches may be largely within your control. If you make some simple changes in habit and lifestyle, you might be pleasantly surprised by the results. At North Texas Medical Center, we take great pride in helping our community achieve better health. If you are suffering from backache, call us at , or contact us online today.

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Should You Use Dry Heat Or Moist Heat For Muscle Pain In Your Back

The answer to this question really comes down to your preference and whats most convenient. Dry heat tend to draw moisture out of the skin, leaving it dehydrated. But some prefer the sensation of dry heat and it is often the easier version to apply.

Moist heat, such as a hot bath, steamed towel or moist heating packs, can help heat to penetrate into muscles, bringing better results for some. But this can also be less convenient to apply and some do not like the mix of moisture and heat.

You may need to experiment to see what works best for relieving your back pain.

Can I Use Ice Therapy

Ice Pack for Lower Back Pain Relief/Back Brace with Ice Packs for Lower ...

Ice therapy doesnt have many of the limitations of heat therapy. For example, its not typically as dangerous to people with other health issues. However, it can be a problem for people who have sensory issues that make it difficult to sense pain. This includes people who have diabetes, as nerve damage may have impacted their sensitivity to extreme temperatures. Its important to be able to see and feel what the ice is doing, so you dont accidentally let it sit on your skin too long to cause damage and, ultimately, more pain. Its also not recommended for people who have poor circulation.

As we mentioned previously, its important to understand the source of your pain and which treatment is going to be the most effective. Ice therapy is not useful for individuals who are trying to treat stiff joints or muscles because it will not loosen up stiff areas it will have the opposite effect!

Read Also: How To Help Your Back Pain

How Does An Ice Pack Help

So what happens when you apply an ice pack to the back or knee? The cold temperatures restrict blood flow to your muscles, which helps to reduce bruising, swelling and pain.

Once you remove the ice pack, your muscles will warm and blood vessels expand, ushering in a flood of new blood, helping to clear debris left by injury and accelerating the healing process.

Cold therapy is a great option for fresh injuries like a pulled, sprained or strained back muscle or a new case of IT band syndrome.

Should I Use Ice Or Heat Therapy To Reduce My Lower Back Pain

There are many types of therapies that can bring pain relief to our lower back. Ice and heat are some of the most commonly used at-home therapies, yet often overlooked due to their ease and accessibility.

It is important to know that the appropriateness and benefits of applying ice or heat can vary and that every situation is unique. Start with an understanding of the type of lower back pain you are experiencing and its cause. This will help you determine if and when ice or heat should be used in order to get the most benefit and reduce pain.

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Ice Packs For Back Pain

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    Opt For Ice To Prevent Sore Muscles

    How to Correctly Apply Ice to Back Pain or Sciatica Pain

    If you work out or play sports frequently, you may notice sore muscles, which eventually lead to back pain. The good news is you can prevent this situation by applying ice or cold therapy to your muscles immediately after physical activities. This way you can keep tissue damage, pain, and inflammation. After 24 hours, use hot therapy to stimulate the healing of tissues.

    Remember that too much of anything is never a good thing. This holds true for both cold and hot therapy. Use these treatments for lower back pain in moderation. Your doctor may encourage you to pair them with other treatments such as medications, steroid injections, and physical therapy.

    In the event conservative treatments deem to be ineffective, your doctor can design a surgical plan that will help you find the relief you deserve.

    All information provided on this website is for information purposes only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice. If you are seeking this information in an emergency situation, please call 911 and seek emergency help.

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    Risks Of Heat Therapy

    Heat therapy should utilize warm temperatures instead of hot ones. If you use heat thats too hot, you can burn the skin. If you have an infection and use heat therapy, there is a chance that the heat therapy could increase the risk of the infection spreading. Heat applied directly to a local area, like with heating packs, should not be used for more than 20 minutes at a time.

    If you experience increased swelling, stop the treatment immediately.

    If heat therapy hasnt helped lessen any pain or discomfort after a week, or the pain increases within a few days, make an appointment to see your doctor.

    When To Use Heat For Back Pain

    After the inflammatory phase, the first 72 hours, you can start to introduce heat to the situation in most cases. However, in some cases, even after the first 72 hours, its still too early for heat. If you continue to have sharp pain, or have pain that radiates down your leg, do not use heat, its too early and you should continue to ice until these symptoms subside.

    Generally speaking, heat is good option for chronic or long-term issues that present with dull and achy pain, as well as muscle tightness. Heat helps to increase pliability of tightened muscles and increases your flexibility, which in turn helps to decrease your pain and improve function.

    As a general rule, you want to use heat for about 30 minutes at a time. Anything longer than 30 minutes, and you may start to notice increased inflammation and pain.

    There are two different types of heat therapy: Dry heat and Moist heat.

    Dry heat Easy to apply. Includes heating pads and dry heat packs.

    Moist heat slightly more effective than dry heat, takes less time, however, its more difficult to apply. Includes moist heat packs, steamed towels, and hot baths.

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    Ice To Bring Lower Back Pain Relief

    Ice is the preferred treatment for acute injury to help with lower back pain relief.

    You probably have what you need around the house to self-treat. A plastic bag with ice and some water or even a bag of frozen peas or corn can do the trick .

    You want to do this with some precautions.

  • Use a thin shirt or paper towel between you and the ice so your skin doesnt get frostbite
  • Use the ice pack on the area in pain for around 15 minutes
  • Just remember C.B.A.N. When you use the cold treatment it should feel Cold. Then is will begin to feel like a Burn. Then the cold will Ache. Just when the area goes Numb, you should get more relief and its time to stop the ice treatment.

    Wait for the area to thaw for the remainder of the hour and repeat.

    Remedies To Relieve Lower Back Pain Fast

    FamilyCareACCU Gel Hot &  Cold Ice Pack for Wraps Around Shoulder, Waist ...

    by North Texas Medical Center | Jan 28, 2020 | Physical Therapy

    We all want to know the best way to relieve lower back pain fast. At best, backache can be frustrating, perhaps draining. At its worst, this kind of discomfort can be utterly debilitating. If you have ever awakened with a terrible backache, you may have also learned how quickly such an ailment can derail your day, your week, or even several months or years.

    Fortunately, there are remedies to combat that ache. From exercising to getting better sleep to reducing your stress levels, you can choose from a variety of strategies. The next time you have a backache , consider the following methods of back pain relief. Remember to discuss at-home back pain remedies with your doctor before you make use of them.

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    Where To Buy A Heat/cold Compress As Big As Your Back

    Dreading the thought of seeking out ice and heat packs for injury care? This large hot and cold back wrap that comes with two gel packs simplifies injury treatment.

    It is specifically designed to provide concentrated cold/hot therapy to your sore or injured back, with the added benefit of compressing and supporting your mid- to low-back.

    You can put the low-profile wrap on under or on top of your clothes. The belt-like product makes it easy for you to ice or heat your back on the go, and its lightweight foam material is soft and breathable.

    Without it, you may be stuck lying on your stomach for long periods each day with an ice pack or heating pad. Sticking to a regular ice/heat therapy schedule leads to faster and more lasting results.

    This hot/cold therapy belt has pockets for two non-toxic gel pads, which come with your purchase. You can also buy extra gel packs so you dont have to wait as long for an ice pack to refreeze. Both reusable ice packs are freezer and microwave safe.

    So What Is The Story With Necks

    The information we gave explaining what happens to the back when it is iced holds true with necks as well. However, the argument against icing the neck is not as strong as it is with the back, the word never does not apply here.

    Just like back pain, the majority of neck pain is not considered inflammatory or injurious in nature. This is the criterion for icing an injury. Just like backs, the neck is easily irritated with cold. Have you ever been hit in the back of the neck with a snow ball? The cold hurts worse than the snow ball impact!

    The most common problem people face with their neck is the crick in the neck, which is enough to make you slightly hostile. This is usually brought on by chilly air hitting the neck at night, and not by the way you slept on your pillow.

    Even if we break down all of the specifics, it is better to learn by experience. Take a small piece of ice from the freezer and place it on your neck for a few seconds. You will see quickly that your neck does not like it at all.

    Unfortunately, no matter what you do, the neck is more fragile than the back. Because the brain knowns this, it pays more attention to the back than it does the neck, and protects it a lot more. Necks are susceptible to being injured a lot more easily, especially with a condition known as whiplash which is way more common than straining muscles in your lower back.

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    Tips When Using Heat And Ice Therapy

    If you plan to regularly use heat and ice therapy, it can be helpful to have both options on hand. If you work out first thing in the morning, you can keep an electric heating pad plugged in by your bed. Wake up, get some heat on your back muscles, then dive into your workout routine. It can be helpful to keep a few different cool packs in the freezer so they will be ready for use whenever you need them. Cold showers and hot baths can also be a beneficial way of augmenting your go-to cold and heat therapies.

    Whether you are doing individual cold or heat therapy or a combination of both, always remember to protect your skin. Set a timer for your therapy sessions to ensure you do not leave the ice or heat on your back for too long.

    Theres Not Much Difference Between Ice And Heat

    Icing the Lower Back

    The body is adept at maintaining a just-right internal temperature, almost no matter what you put on the skin. Even a few millimetres under an ice pack, the tissue temperature drops only a few degrees. And the back is thick most of the muscle and all of the spinal joints are well out of reach.

    Also, most of those patients probably had no injury to treat. Most back pain cannot be attributed to any specific cause, let alone a trauma.

    One of the main goals of my career has been to determine the cause of non-specific back pain. And in this I have failed. I didnt know the origin of back pain in those days, and I dont know now.

    Prof. Alf Nachemson, MD, PhD, A Tribute to Alf Nachemson: The Spine Interview

    Most strained backs are not actually damaged it just feels like it. When people think theyve thrown their back out, there is rarely anything out of place, or nothing that actually hurts. Even if there is like herniated discs the problem is much deeper than the limited penetrating power of either ice or heat can reach.

    So why does it even matter? Why choose either one?

    Also Check: How To Help Muscular Back Pain

    Trends In Cold Therapy

    Ice has long been a central component of post-workout recovery for athletes, as an ice bath can soothe inflamed, post-workout muscles.

    That said, cold therapy should not occur right after workouts. While an ice bath might feel great, this post-workout inflammation is actually an important element of helping an athlete to become stronger and more resilient.

    Some athletes use controlled cold exposure to reap hormonal benefits and gain a mental edge. Some studies have also shown that therapeutic cold exposure can lower your risk of upper respiratory infections.

    When To Use Ice For Lower Back Pain

    In most instances, you should use ice on your back for the first 24 to 72 hours following an injury. Cold therapy helps minimize swelling and inflammation. This, in turn, eases your pain. Cold therapy may also decrease tissue damage.

    Whether you use an ice pack, a frozen towel or even a bag of frozen vegetables, place a cloth between your skin and the source of cold to prevent ice burn. Cold therapy should be applied for no more than 20 minutes at a time, but it can safely be applied up to 10 times in a 24-hour period.

    Recommended Reading: What To Do When You Strain Your Lower Back

    Trigger Points Dont Like Cold Either

    Trigger points are probably a major cause and/or compication of most back pain. They may be one way that sensitization manifests in the body.

    Trigger points are pressure-sensitive spots associated with pain and stiffness, which are common in the low back. Theoretically, they are tiny patches of cramping muscle tissue an aching micro-cramp, rather than the whole muscle spasms that people often think they feel in the back.

    These little monsters are probably aggravated by cold. There is no science whatsoever that directly supports that, just some expert opinion, and my own personal and professional experience. It does seems possible that little tiny cramps might get cranky when chilled.


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