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Is Heat Good For Back Pain

Systemic Heating Versus Local Heating

HEAT or COLD for Back Pain â Is heat or ice best for pain and injuries?

There are different ways of heating your muscles to prevent soreness, but the two main categories are systemic and local heating. Systemic heating implies raising your body temperature with a steam bath, piping hot shower, or Jacuzzi. This basically involves creating an artificial fever.

Local heating, on the other hand, entails specific heating which means applying a heated gel pack, a heating pad, heated bean bag or a hot water bottle to a specific point on your body. As mentioned above, there are many tools and devices which can use from home to pin point sore muscles. Thermotherapy is certainly good for these sore muscles when you know what you are doing. Always follow the manufacturers guidelines and speak to your Doctor when in doubt.

Using Cold Therapy Safely

If you have aggravated an old injury, the general rule is to use ice for the first 48 to 72 hours or until the swelling subsides. At first, the ice will feel uncomfortably cold. Then youll feel a burning sensation, followed by an aching feeling, and finally, numbness. Ice can temporarily relieve pain almost any time.

Apply ice for 10- to 30-minute periods, separated by at least an hour between applications. The duration of applications also should vary with the area of the body being iced. Tissues, muscles, and structures that lie close to the surface of the skin or have little surrounding body fat require less icing time than those that lie deeper in the body.

The Heat Temperature Vs Penetration

About a degree Celsius or two at several millimeters into the skin can have different effects depending on the position and the manner in which it is done. Research shows an average increase of 3.8 degrees Celsius at a depth of ten millimeters and 0.78 degree Celsius at a depth of thirty millimeters. This indicates that superficial heating is a simple way to gradually increase tissue temperature up to several centimeters, which is a large volume for most of the body muscles.

Heat for Soreness After Exercise

Arguably one of the most common therapeutic reason to immerse yourself into hot water is to try and reduce the pain of delayed onset muscle soreness, which is the 24-hour period of muscle pain you experience after engaging in unfamiliar exercises. Unlike icing which is meant to prevent the swelling of a body part after a hit, heating is the best way to mitigate soreness.

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Types Of Cold Therapy

Some ways of using cold therapy include:

  • a cold compress or a chemical cold pack applied to the inflamed area for 20 minutes, every 4 to 6 hours, for 3 days. Cold compresses are available for purchase online.
  • immersion or soaking in cold, but not freezing, water
  • massaging the area with an ice cube or an ice pack in a circular motion from two to five times a day, for a maximum of 5 minutes, to avoid an ice burn

In the case of an ice massage, ice can be applied directly to the skin, because it does not stay in one place.

Ice should not be applied directly to the bony portions of the spinal column.

A cold compress can be made by filling a plastic bag with frozen vegetables or ice and wrapping it in a dry cloth.

Abused Term #: Pain Receptors


Some people will call these proteins and their host nerves pain receptors, but thats definitely oversimplifying things dramatically, to the point of error .

Pain is not a thing in the world to be detected. Even the output of nociceptors is not yet pain, let alone the input.

Proteins transduce the stimuli, they dont interpret it. The nerve cells pass the message along, but they dont editorialize.

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Making Back Pain Worse Instead Of Better

Here are some common ways people increase their back pain, instead of making it better:

  • Lack of physical activity
  • Improperly bending or poor back mechanics
  • Improper use of icing and heating back muscles
  • Sitting on fitness ball rather then your office chair

When you are experiencing chronic back pain, it is common to significantly reduce physical activity. While this is a good idea in some cases, in reality its best to keep some level of physical activity going. Lying in bed for days or weeks can delay healing. Resting longer than 48 hours causes muscle atrophy, which can often lead to a muscle spasm and increased weakening of the back muscles. Light activity like walking, swimming, or spending some time on an elliptical trainer can actually speed up the healing process.

Its important when bending or lifting heavy objects to bend at the knees rather then using the support of your back muscles. Improper bending increases the likelihood of injuring your back through something as simple as a sneeze. In time, over-usage of the back muscles causes significant weakening so that when you least expect it a sudden injury occurs.

In the case of icing and heating back muscles its important to note that although a hot shower might feel good, the heat might actually be increasing inflammation by opening up blood vessels. Icing and heating in combination breaks the cycles in which muscle spasms cause pain.

For Urinary Tract Infections

Since three of the most common causes of kidney discomfort occur in the urinary tract, here are some remedies to relieve pain in the kidneys related to the urinary tract:

1. Stay Hydrated

Hydration is key to relieving pain in the kidneys since water will help flush bacteria out of the body. Plus, staying hydrated will help clear out the urinary tract as a whole and work to eliminate any possible infections.

Many specialists recommend the 8×8 rule, meaning you should drink eight 8 oz. glasses of water a day. However, water intake is highly dependant on you and your health, so take this article into consideration when determining your daily amount of water intake.

2. Drink Cranberry Juice

While not scientifically proven, cranberry juice is known to be a remedy for urinary tract infections. If you choose to alternate between cranberry juice and water, be sure to choose a cranberry juice that isnt packed full of additional sweeteners. A cranberry supplement or pure cranberry juice is always the best way to go!

3. Take Probiotics

Its no secret that probiotics are beneficial for you, especially when it comes to fighting bacteria and kidney pain. Studies show that probiotics can improve kidney function and assist in processing waste too.

4. Drink Parsley Juice

You can also mix parsley into a smoothie to make drinking it more bearable. Check out these recipes for inspiration!

5. Take a Warm Epsom Salt Bath

6. Apply Heat

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An Example: How Capsaicin Might Help A Problem Like Tendinitis

This is how I rationalized using capsaicin on my own Achilles tendinitis:

  • My tendons are persistently inflamed.
  • At least part of the reason that they hurt is that my TRPV1 receptors are responding to the presence of molecules of inflammation.
  • If I flood that superficial tissue with capsaicin, I might reduce the population of TRPV1 receptors and desensitize the remainder and so I might also not feel the inflammation as intensely.
  • But the burning of the capsaicin was just too severe and too weird with its timing, surging in the middle of the night so I gave up after only a couple of days. I probably didnt get to the downregulated and desensitized part.

    How Heat Eases The Pain

    Is Heat Or Ice Therapy Is Good For Back Pain?

    Heat works to ease back pain in many ways. It speeds up the healing process by increasing blood flow to lower back muscles, allowing increased blood flow to deliver more oxygen, white blood cells, platelets, and essential nutrients which help repair damaged tissues.

    Heat reduces the pain in the back caused by stiffness. The heat facilitates stretching of the tissues around the spine, providing decreased stiffness and increased range of motion. Heat also interrupts the transmission of pain signals. It encourages relaxation and alleviates stress.

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    When To Use Heat

    Once the initial inflammation and swelling have subsided, switch to heat. Heat stimulates blood flow to the affected area and helps facilitate healing. It may also decrease stiffness and prevent pain signals from traveling to your brain.

    When using heat, you can choose between dry heat or moist heat. Dry heat is generally easier to apply, but it may make your skin feel dehydrated. Moist heat penetrates your muscles better and may work better for easing your pain.

    If you have open wounds, dermatitis or diabetes, avoid heat therapy altogether.

    They Say: It Is Harmful To Apply Heat To Your Body For Too Long

    False! There are concerns that prolonged exposure to heat will be harmful as it may cause skin irritation, blisters or even burns. However, you can avoid this by simply monitoring the heat level that the pack is emitting, and by removing it from your body for a few seconds every hour. This gives your skin the chance to rest, and for the hot air thats trapped between the pack and skin to escape. You should definitely avoid using a heat pack while sleeping as it is difficult to monitor the temperature then!

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    Two Reasons Heat Is Good For Back Pain

    Our team knows that heat therapy can be helpful for many conditions, but we know that heat is especially good for back pain. While there are many reasons for this, our team typically focuses on two of the reasons when explaining why heat therapy works for back pain.

    The first reason we focus on in our explanation to back pain patients is that heat may help relieve muscle tension. Our team can tell you that there are many muscles in your back that help support your spine. We also know that these muscles are what allow your spine to bend and flex as you move. However, you may have lost your ability to move your spine comfortably if youve injured one of your back muscles. This is because damaged muscles often become tense when people try to hold them rigid to counteract the pain. Unfortunately, this rigid muscle posture often has the opposite effect of increasing your back pain. Using heat therapy, our team may be able to reduce the tension you have in your back muscles, and this may also help reduce your back pain.

    For these two reasons, and others, heat therapy is good for back pain, and our therapy team often uses it in treatment plans for back problems. If youre ready to find out if heat therapy may benefit you, theres a simple step you can take.

    Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.

    Is Heat Good For Sore Muscles 3 Effective Ways

    Waist Heating Pad Belt Lower Back Heat Wrap Hot and Cold ...

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    Thermotherapy otherwise known as heat therapy is proving to be more useful than what many people initially think. Especially when it comes to day to day muscle pain. Which is why so many people want need to know Is heat good for sore muscles?.If your not an experienced therapist, sports trainer or in the health industry at all, knowing what to do with muscle pain can be quite daunting.

    In this article, I will shed light onto the subject and explain exactly why heat therapy is a good home remedy anyone can apply for relieving muscle pain. Should you use hot or cold packs, this is also a common question and on that will be addressed in a simple manner.

    Quick Links To Info On This Page

  • 5 Systemic Heating Versus Local Heating
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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.

    American Chiropractic Association: âBack Pain Facts and Statistics.â

    National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: âWhat Is Back Pain?â

    American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: âLow Back Pain.â

    Harvard Medical School: âBed Rest for Back Pain? A Little Bit Will Do You.â

    National Institute of Neurologic Disorders and Stroke: âLow Back Pain Fact Sheet.â

    Johns Hopkins Medicine: âCryotherapy for Pain Management.â

    University of Michigan Health System: âLow Back Pain.â

    Cochrane Library: âMotor Control Exercise for Chronic Non-specific Low Back Pain.â

    Annals of Internal Medicine: âA comparison of the effects of 2 types of massage and usual care on chronic low back pain: a randomized, controlled trial.â

    U.S. National Library of Medicine: âBack Pain.â

    American Association of Neurological Surgeons: âLow Back Strain and Sprain,â âSpinal Infections,â âSpinal Tumors.â

    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

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    A Protein For Every Stimuli

    Before the ink was dry on their original report, Dr. Julius and his team were already looking for a protein that transduces the feeling of a cool spring day a cold receptor, a protein that lets the ions flow at a much lower temperature. Meanwhile, Ardem Patapoutian was doing the same thing! Both labs then independently and simultaneously discovered TRPM8, an ion gate opened by temperatures of 20C, give or take a few, instead of TRPV1s 40C.

    And there are still other proteins that open like flowers in different temperatures, each one covering a section of the thermometer. And the discoveries of TRPV1 and TRP8 triggered a research rush to identify other kinds of receptors. The basic mechanisms of touch were still unknown at the time, and especially tantalizing.

    How does squishing tissue turn into the perception of pressure?

    Papoutians team pursued this, earning the other half of the Nobel. Charmingly, they started out by identifying natural cells that were sensitive to touch , microscopically. I am not joking: they literally poked cells with a microscopic stick until they found ones that responded with a little spark of electricity.

    They finally found that spark, and then they just had to identify the spark plug: the protein that was reacting to the poke. They found two: Piezo1 and Piezo2 were announced in 2010.22 And that is why Patapoutian is sharing a prize with Julius.

    Counterstimulating With Capsaicin: Medium Spice Therapy

    Ice Versus Heat for Back Pain

    Sensory distraction is another classic rationalization for how therapy works . Its probably more legitimate, however.

    One sensation can pre-empt another to some degree. This is known as counterstimulation, and it is certainly a real thing it is firmly based on the well-known neurological principle of gate control.27 The canonical example is the way we instinctively rub tissue around acute minor injuries.

    If we counterstimulate one noxious stimuli with another, its counter-irritation.

    Counterstimulation is a real thing, but not an especially potent thing. You could call it another tool for the pain treatment toolbox, but its not an impressive tool. Maybe just like a small screwdriver or a tack hammer.

    But counterstimulation with capsaicin might be different.

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    How To Apply Heat

    Like cold therapy, heat therapy is a versatile treatment that lends itself to several options.

    • An electric heating pad: Heating pads plug into the wall and provide a consistent heat source to help ease your back pain. Many heating pads allow you to control the temperature and set a timer, ensuring you do not leave the heat on your back for too long.
    • A hot water bottle: Hot water bottles can provide heat. Remember to wrap a light washcloth around the surface if it is too hot to touch with your bare hands.
    • A bath: A hot bath can help to ease your back pain and any other muscle soreness you may be experiencing.
    • Adhesive heat wraps: Wear over-the-counter adhesive heat wraps underneath your clothing for a safe, low-level amount of heat lasting several hours.

    If you use heat for lower back pain, it is vital to protect your skin. Make sure whatever heat source you use is warm rather than hot, and do not leave it on your body for too long.

    Ice Vs Heat Therapy For Back Pain: Pros And Cons Of Each

    • Ice therapy and heat therapy can help you heal from back pain, depending on your condition and the source of the pain.
    • Cold therapy is best for acute pain and injuries, whereas heat therapy is best for chronic pain, dull pain, and stiffness.
    • Contrast therapy applies heat and cold intermittently and can be beneficial in treating chronic back pain and stiffness.
    • People with certain medical conditions should not use these therapies, so be sure to take your whole health into consideration before trying one.

    Back pain is one of the most frequently reported conditions in the United States, with some 65 million Americans reporting a recent episode of back pain and 16 million Americans reporting chronic or persistent back pain. As a result, its one of the leading causes of missed work and prevents a large group of the population from getting their recommended daily amount of exercise each day.

    Unfortunately, with the exception of costly and invasive surgeries, theres no cure for chronic back pain or acute episodes . However, there are a number of great things you can do to keep the pain at bay temporarily so that you can get back to doing the things you love to do each and every day. In addition to low-level laser therapy , using hot and cold therapies is among the best things you can do to quell your back pain.

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