How To Apply Ice
There are several different methods for icing your lower back. For instance, you can perform ice massage therapy, which entails gently rubbing a chunk of ice over the affected area to help numb your back and reduce any pain. You can also apply ice without any massage if you have a store-bought or makeshift cold compress, such as a bag of frozen vegetables.
If you use ice for back pain, remember not to leave any ice directly on your skin for a prolonged period to avoid potential burning. If you plan to leave the cold compress in place, wrap the ice pack in a thin washcloth or a couple of paper towels to create a layer of protection between the ice and your skin. You can ice for up to 20 minutes at a time.
A Combination Of Hot And Cold Therapy May Be Just What You Need To Treat Pain
If you are breathing, chances are you have experienced some type of physical pain in your life whether it be due to injury or having some type of chronic health condition such as arthritis or fibromyalgia.
Pain can be intense and really affects the quality of your life. Some even say it may be better to die once and for all than to suffer pain for all ones life.
And despite decades of research, chronic pain remains poorly understood and notoriously hard to control, .
Sometimes pain is managed with highly addictive drugs called opioids. Now opioids have contributed to a drug epidemic in America.
So clearly its important for us all to be proactive about pain management and explore credible alternative therapies to alleviate pain.Two pain relieving therapies are cryotherapy and thermography.
You are probably very familiar with applying an ice pack on a rolled ankle to reduce swelling or maybe on an injured knee. This is a form of cold therapy. Cryotherapy, sometimes referred to as cold therapy, has become a pretty popular treatment for pain these days.
And dont forget nutrition!
So What Do You Do After A Back Injury
For back strain, people often use ice for the first 48 to 72 hours. Heat increases blood flow and inflammation, and it may not be a good idea at first
After those first few days, most experts recommend the use of either ice or heat, according to your preference. While researchers continue to look into the best ways to treat an acute injury, most doctors still recommend ice as the first line of defense for a back injury.
A 2011 review of studies published in the British Medical Journal Clinical Evidence evaluated 20 different categories of treatment to learn about their safety and effectiveness. Treatments included over-the-counter pain medications such as NSAIDs, acupuncture, McKenzie exercises , and temperature treatments.
The researchers were seeking answers to the following questions:
- What are the effects of oral drug treatments for acute low back pain?
- What are the effects of local injections for acute low back pain?
- What are the effects of non-drug treatments for acute low back pain?
As far as temperature studies go, the review found moderate-quality evidence that using a heat wrap 5 days after the injury may relieve pain. Just the same, the authors cited that overall they did not find enough evidence to judge the effectiveness of any type of temperature treatment.
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Tips On Using A Heating Pad For Arthritis
It certainly seems clear that people suffering from arthritis would do well to consider the option of using a heating pad to provide a measure of pain relief. However, how can they get the most of this form of therapy?
Firstly, it is important to make sure that you use the heating pad in a safe way. The last thing that you want to do is cause yourself a nasty burn to worry about! Be sure to protect your skin while using the heating pad, you can usually determine the best way to do this by closely following the instructions which come with your heating pad.
Because traditional heat pads heat from the skin inwards, be careful to not have the temperature too high and left on the skin for too long. This can cause the skin to dry out and burn. This is why a infrared or a heating pad with moisture is recommended.
In addition, get into the habit of using the heating pad on a regular basis. Your primary healthcare practitioner should be able to advise you on how often you should use the heating pad, as well as the duration of time for each use.
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Back Pain Relief Is Confusing Well Explain When Heat And Cold Are Better
Back pain relief is something many people long for and wonder about. Almost all of us have lower back issues as we age. Are you suffering from back pain, either from a sports injury or a persistent spinal condition? You know how distracting it can be. In some cases, back pain can be severe, leading to your trying a whole range of different treatments, sometimes to no avail. For short-term relief, applying ice or a heat pack can help but depending on the kind of pain you have, one method may be better than the other. In this article, we will explain what provides the best relief, heat or cold. But first what causes back pain?
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How Does Heat And Cold Help Arthritis Pain
Heat or cold therapy works by stimulating your body’s own healing force. For instance, heat dilates the blood vessels, stimulates blood circulation, and reduces muscle spasms. In addition, heat alters the sensation of pain. You can use either dry heat — such as heating pads or heat lamps — or moist heat — such as warm baths or heated wash cloths.
Conversely, cold compresses reduce swelling by constricting blood vessels. While cold packs may be uncomfortable at first, they can numb deep pain.
The Donts Of Applying Hot Packs For Arthritis
- Now, it isnt difficult to guess that heat can make acute inflammation worse. Heat should NOT be applied in acute pain, acute injuries, and in bleeding, even when these occur to an arthritic joint. Applying heat to a fresh injury will only worsen the pain.
- Do not use heat if you have any open wounds or substantial bruises
- Not recommended for patients with diabetes
Note: Tiger balms and other capsaicin-containing topical ointments are only spicy that is they make you feel hot they do not increase heat physiologically. They distract our mind from pain they do not affect pain.
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What Is Heat Therapy
The best way to remember what heat therapy does is to recognize its purpose is to soothe the pain in a particular area or region of the body. Heat therapy works by increasing the temperature around an area of your body that is hurting such as a muscle. When your bodys temperature rises, it improves blood flow and circulation, so when you increase the temperature in a specific area of the body, its going to increase the circulation in that particular area. When you have pain coming from one specific muscle or set of muscles increasing circulation helps to relax the muscle, ultimately easing pain and discomfort. Since it improves blood flow and circulation, it can be an effective way to heal damaged tissues, as well.
At this point, its important to mention one major thing: when we say heat therapy, were not talking about putting anything really hot against your skin. Were talking a steady, warm heat. Anything that is going to burn you or cause even greater pain or discomfort is just too hot and should never be used for heat therapy.
Heat therapy can either be administered through dry heat or moist heat, but one isnt necessarily better than the other. It comes down to your preference try both to see which one brings you the most relief. Dry heat is the kind of heat youll get from heating pads, hot water bottles, heat patches and wraps or saunas. On the other hand, moist heat is the kind of heat youd obtain through a hot bath or a steam towel.
What Is Cold Treatment
Cold therapy uses numerous advantages. Generally, cold therapy slows particular nerve activities. The extreme cold causes a numbing or freezing sensation, which may sidetrack you from the discomfort. It is known that cold treatment can decrease swelling, swelling and muscle spasms.
Freezing temperature levels are not necessary in fact, excessive cold can damage the skin. Most people discover that holding an ice pack or bag of frozen vegetables on the affected area for 20 minutes numerous times a day will decrease swelling and improve pain levels. You can also try moving an ice carefully over the location to develop a similar impact without harming the skin.
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Types Of Heating Pads For Arthritic Pain
Heating pads come in all sorts of styles shapes and sizes. Depending on the body part, you can buy a heat pad suitable to treat that one particular area. Below you can find links to some of the best heating pads to treat various ares of the body.
- Neck & Shoulder Infrared Heating Devices Good for people with Cervical osteoarthritis also known as neck arthritis.
- Moist Heat Therapy Pads These heat pads and wraps offer a better solution than traditional heat pads as they can provide steam as a treatment. This will also limit that chances of the pad burning the skin.
- Microwaveable pads Not everyone prefers an electric heating pad. Sometimes its easier to throw a quality heat pad into the microwave and get short bursts of pain relief.
How Often Should I Use Heat Or Cold Therapy For Arthritis Pain
Try to use moist heat or ice packs at least twice a day for the best relief from pain and stiffness.
According to the American College of Rheumatology, five to 10-minute ice massages applied to a painful area within the first 48 hours of pain onset can provide relief. So can heat, which relaxes the muscles. Heat should be used for pain that lasts longer than 48 hours.
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An Ice Bag Or Very Cold Pack May Numb The Pain In Your Back But Does This Also Promote Healing
Heat wont numb the pain, but wont it increase blood flow to your hurting muscles?
So the big question is: Heat or cold for back pain treatment?
Keep in mind that in most cases, back pain will resolve all by itself, says Kaixuan Liu, MD, PhD, nationally distinguished leader in endoscopic spine surgery and chief surgeon at Atlantic Spinal Care in Edison, N.J.
This good fortune may occur only two weeks after the initial onset of pain. Both cold and heat can be applied but not in a random way.
To determine whether you should use heat or cold to treat low back pain, Dr. Liu says its important to learn whats causing the situation.
Sudden-onset of pain in the lower back can be caused by improperly lifting something heavy or by some kind of forceful trauma.
With a mechanical injury, you might feel anything from dull aching to a shooting or stabbing pain, says Dr. Liu.
You might also experience stiffness or loss of flexibility that prevents you from standing or sitting normally. Discomfort thats acute is short-lived, but it may recur as well.
If the issue goes on for over 90 days, this is then chronic low back pain. It can be caused by improper lifting but also degenerative ailments.
Tips For Using Heat Therapy
Heat therapy needs to be warm rather than too hot. The Arthritis Foundation recommends the following tips for using different types of heat therapy:
- Take a hot shower or bath in the morning or before exercising to help reduce stiffness, warm up the body, prepare the joints, and help reduce the likelihood of injury.
- Take a warm bath at the end of the day to ease the joints after a day of activity.
- Avoid using heat on any injury or during a flare-up.
- If any redness, swelling, or bruising is present, use cold therapy instead for a few days until it subsides.
- If people have neuropathy or another condition that makes them less sensitive to temperature changes, they should check their skin every 5 minutes to check that it is not burning or blistering.
People may also be incorporating heat therapy into their day without realizing it. Taking a hot shower in the morning, washing their hands in moderately hot water, or washing up can all be ways to soothe the joints throughout the day.
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Ice Your Back Immediately After Exercise To Reduce Muscle Soreness
Muscle soreness and back pain can occur from extensive workouts, trying a new type of work out, or even from excessive walking. Soreness from these activities may start on the first day but typically continues to peak until the third day.4 This phenomenon is called delayed onset muscle soreness and can cause significant inflammation and pain in your back.
When you have back pain from exercise or exertion, use cold therapy immediately after the activity to reduce tissue damage, inflammation, and pain. After a 24-hour period, use heat therapy to encourage tissue healing.4
How Does The Hot & Cold Therapy Pack Reduce Back Pain
Use the Hot & Cold Therapy Pack for heat therapy or cold therapy. When you use it for cold therapy, it numbs sharp pains, reduces swelling, and promotes healing. When you use it for heat therapy, it relaxes and soothes muscles, improves circulation, and increases flexibility. The cold works by restricting blood vessels, squeezing out deoxygenated blood, and, thus, reducing swelling. When the cold is removed, blood flow returns to normal, and oxygenated blood flows back in and promotes healing. The heat works by dilating the blood vessels, promoting blood flow, and helping sore and tight muscles relax. The adjustable strap allows you to place it anywhere the pain is.
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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.
Alternative Treatments For Back Pain Relief
If you have been trying a range of treatments for a number of months and the pain persists, then your last resort is most likely surgery. Traditional surgery such as decompression and fusion can limit mobility in the back, which is why many doctors are now recommending a TOPS System as one of the most effective back pain and spinal stenosis treatments.
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Tips For Using Heat Therapy For Ra
- Use safe heat sources that dont let the temperature get scalding, including hot towels, hot tubs, showers, or baths, hot water bottles, microwaveable hot pads, and electric heating pads.
- To prevent burns, do not use heat for excessive lengths of time .
- When using heating pads or hot water bottles, place a towel or cloth on your skin first, to prevent direct contact with the heat source.
- Be careful to check your skin for redness often while applying heat, and remove the heat source if redness occurs.
- Follow the manufacturers instructions when using a paraffin bath device.
Heat Vs Cold For Chronic Pain
If you suffer from chronic lower back pain, the decision between when you use heat vs. when to use cold isnt quite as clear cut. For most people, obtaining effective relief requires finding a balance between using both heat and cold. If you do exercises to strengthen your back, you may find that applying heat first helps warm up your muscles and get through your workout with ease. Cold works to ease inflammation and pain following a workout.
Chronic lower back pain should be assessed by a medical professional. If you suffer from lower back pain, your Denver physical therapist can help you determine the best course of treatment. To learn more, contact Denver Physical Medicine today.
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When To Call Your Doctor
With these treatments, your pain should go away on its own. Call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms, because they could be signs of a bigger problem:
- The pain lasts for more than 3 days.
- It moves from your back to other parts of your body.
- You also have fever or loss of bladder or bowel control.
Unconventional Wisdom About Icing
Icing has a good reputation as a treatment method which it may not deserve. Even if it is helpful, many people are unclear about when and why to use it. Unfortunately, it is routine for healthcare professionals to recommend ice massage or ice gel packs for back pain. For back pain specifically , its particularly likely to fail or even backfire.
Neither icing or heating has much potential to relieve acute back pain. This was shown by a 2010 experiment at a busy emergency department. The test was simple: give some patients ice packs, give others heating pads, and compare the results. Which were pretty much the same. Both heat and cold resulted in mild yet similar improvement in the pain severity. The researchers recommend that the choice of heat or cold therapy should be based on patient and practitioner preferences and availability.
Whats going on here? Why didnt one of them win? Or lose?