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Is Ice Pack Good For Back Pain

Is Laser Therapy Just Heat Therapy

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

Another great treatment option for chronic back pain is low-level laser therapy . By using low-level laser technology, wearable devices like the Curavi belt can help temporarily relieve minor muscle and joint aches, pain, and stiffness. How does laser treatment help back pain? Like heat therapy, it works by relaxing the muscles and temporarily increasing local blood circulation, which helps deliver nutrients to the site and improve flexibility.

But laser therapy is NOT heat therapy. Unlike heat therapy, lasers use safe wavelengths of laser energy to penetrate the skin for deeper healing. Another benefit of Curavi laser therapy devices over heat therapy is that they feature timed, automated sessions so theres no risk of overheating, burning, or worsening your condition. Your Curavi belt will turn off automatically after each 30-minute session and will never cause burns. Plus, theres no awkward positioning. You simply wear the device around your waist like a belt for targeted treatment.

Contrast Therapy: Using Both Cold And Heat Therapy For Back Pain

Hot/cold immersion therapy alternates quickly between cold and heat therapy to jolt your bodys circulation. As you might imagine, rapidly shifting between hot and cold water can be very stimulating, but outside of that, the benefits of this method of dealing with an injured latissimus dorsi or any other injury is fairly unknown.

Some studies have shown contrast therapy can improve your bodys immune system, but others show minimal net benefit or near equal benefits as with doing cold and heat therapy separately.

Contrast therapy can be used for recovery purposes after a trying workout or to reduce swelling related to injuries. But it should not be used for fresh injuries when swelling, heat and redness are still present.

Ice Packs And Other Cold Treatments

Rose Mary has been an occupational therapist since 1987. She has extensive experience treating conditions of the hands and arms.

Ice is an inexpensive, yet astoundingly effective treatment for pain and swelling. Unfortunately it is a grossly underutilized tool. A big reason for this is that many healthcare providers themselves do not appreciate the benefits of ice packs and other cold treatment modalities for pain or swelling. Some providers simply dont know about the benefits and therapeutic use of ice.

I was one of those providers until my physical therapy colleagues enlightened me. Many providers unfortunately propagate misconceptions about the use of ice. If I had a dollar for every patient that told me, The emergency room told me to ice for 2 days, then use heat, Id go on a nice European vacation.

What Ice Does

Ice initially constricts local blood vessels and decreases tissue temperature. Overall, ice will:

During treatment with ice, you will go through the following stages:

  • Cold
  • Aching
  • Numbness

Large commercial ice pack with gel texture, ice cup, Karo syrup ice pack vacuum-sealed.

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Tips To Combine Heat And Cold Therapy In Your Daily Routine

Here are a few tips to help you incorporate the use of heat and/or cold therapy in your everyday activities:

  • Keep a heat patch near your beduse it first thing in the morning to warm up your muscles if you wake up with an achy or stiff back
  • Apply a cold patch before bed if you have exercised or exerted your back
  • Use heat therapy before sleeping and after waking up if you have chronic back pain
  • Carry a couple of self-activating heat patches and ice packs in your bag or car to use while driving or at work

You are more likely to benefit from heat and cold therapy when you make these treatments a part of your daily routine.

Use Low Heat Therapy For Chronic Back Pain

2PCS Hot Cold Gel Ice Pack for Back Injuries with Wrap, for Lower Back ...

If your lower back pain has been on-going for more than four weeks, low level, continuous heat therapy may be used to reduce discomfort. A warm blanket or adhesive heat patches can be used to provide continuous heat and should help to stimulate healing when used regularly.

You could also try a heat lamp or infrared light therapy .

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Ice Therapy: A Few Scenarios When Its Good For Back Pain

Ice therapy, also known as cryotherapy, is generally meant for fresh injuries. The cold of an ice pack calms inflamed, hot, red or swollen tissue.

While this is your bodys natural reaction to an injury and a component of the healing process, it can be quite painful and last longer than it needs to.

Applying a cold gel pack to your freshly injured back or some other area of the body can dull pain and bring down swelling.

What About Chronic Lower Back Pain

All of the above advice addresses when to use heat and ice following the first occurrence of lower back pain after an injury. But what about chronic lower back pain?

See Types of Back Pain: Acute Pain, Chronic Pain, and Neuropathic Pain

The simple answer is that there is no right answer. Finding the balance between cold and heat therapy for chronic lower back pain is a process of trial and errorand what might work for one patient may not for another. But when it comes to exercise, many people with chronic back pain find heat therapy helps to warm up their muscles beforehand, while cold therapy helps with pain and inflammation afterwards.

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When To Use Caution

Paraffin wax treatments supply moist heat but overheating can cause burns.

Use caution on areas with decreased sensation if you have neuropathy or Raynauds syndrome. Extreme temperatures can damage skin.

Wonder if its safe to use ice when youre burning up with fever? Theres nothing wrong with using cold to bring down a fever, says Dr. Kriegler.

When To Use Heat Vs When To Use Ice For Lower Back Pain

How to Correctly Apply Ice to Back Pain or Sciatica Pain

Both heat and cold therapy are beneficial and can provide effective relief from lower back pain. If you are like many people, though, you might not know when to use heat vs. when to use ice for lower back pain to achieve the maximum benefit. If you are suffering from lower back pain, read on to discover whether you should be using heat or ice.

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When Heat Therapy Is Not The Answer

There are times when applying heat will make your discomfort worse or when ice therapy is a better option .

If you have truly pulled or strained your lower back muscles, applying heat will cause inflammation. Heating inflamed tissues will make your pain worse and certainly wont help things get better any time soon.

Another scenario when heat therapy is not a good idea is if you are already sweating. Adding even more heat can come across as a threat signal to your brain, prompting it to up your pain response.

This seems kind of obvious, but you should not apply heat to an open wound or infected tissue. Heat therapy should also be avoided when treating:

  • diabetes
  • deep vein thrombosis
  • peripheral vascular disease

Heat Therapy For Back Pain

Heat therapy helps to promote blood circulation and tissue healing, as well as working to activate and keep muscles moving. After a day or two of using an ice pack, you could switch to use a heat pack.

Also, heat packs may help you first thing in the morning. If you wake up with a stiff or achy back, a heat pack may help warm up your mobiles and increase mobility.

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Types Of Lower Back Issues

Lower back pain is one of the most common reasons people seek medical attention. While some are more susceptible to it than others, nearly seven out of ten people¹ experience back pain at some time during their life.

The pain can make it difficult or even impossible to walk, sleep, work, or perform essential activities.

What is better for lower back pain when it comes to at-home treatmentheat or cold therapy?

Both, actually. Heat and cold therapy are beneficial and can effectively relieve different types of lower back pain. These treatments are often overlooked despite being simple, cost-effective, and practical.

Various lower back pain conditions can be treated with heat or cold therapy, including the following.


Arthritis is a common condition that affects the joints.

One of the most common types of arthritis that affects the lower back is osteoarthritis. It causes inflammation and stiffness in the affected area. Eventually, this could lead to pain, stiffness, and difficulty moving.


Spondylolisthesis is a spinal condition that can cause lower back and sometimes leg pain.

This condition occurs when vertebrae in your spine slip out of place. The spinal cord and nerve roots can become pinched when this happens, causing pain.

Structural issues

Another condition is spinal stenosis, which occurs when the space around the spinal cord narrows and pinches the nerves.

Strains and sprains



Disposable Ice Packs/ Instant Ice Packs

Back Pain Relief Gel Pack Hot Cold Ice Packs For Injuries

Single use cold packs have the advantage of becoming cold almost instantly through a chemical reaction that takes place once the pack is cracked. Because they are ready at any time, prior planning in terms of putting the ice pack in the freezer is not needed. Another advantage is that the chemical reaction in the pack allows it to stay cold for an extended period of time while being used at room temperature. The main disadvantage of instant ice packs is that they can only be used once, making them more expensive than reusable ice packs or homemade ice packs. A variety of disposable, instant ice packs are available at most drug stores and general merchandise stores.

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Heat Therapy: Why A Heated Back Brace Is A Good Way To Get Rid Of Back Pain

Generally speaking, heat therapy is your best solution for sore, stiff or aching muscles, especially in the neck or back.

Your muscles typically respond well to heat, especially when your discomfort stems from overexertion, trigger points , spasms, cramps , bad posture, or restless leg syndrome.

Using a heating pad is also one of the best things you can do for easing pain or stiffness stemming from arthritis.

A heating pad can also soothe hurts-all-over pain or sensitivity stemming from fibromyalgia, sleep deprivation, rheumatic diseases or vitamin D deficiency, to name a few examples.

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.

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Types Of Heat Therapy

Types of heat therapy include:

  • applying safe heating devices to the area. Many heat products are available for purchase online, including electrical heating pads, hot water bottles, hot compress, or heat wrap.
  • soaking the area in a hot bath, between 92 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 33 and 37.7 degrees Celsius
  • using heated paraffin wax treatment
  • medications such as rubs or patches containing capsicum, available for purchase online.

Heat packs can be dry or moist. Dry heat can be applied for up to 8 hours, while moist heat can be applied for 2 hours. Moist heat is believed to act more quickly.

Heat should normally be applied to the area for 20 minutes, up to three times a day, unless otherwise indicated.

Single-use wraps, dry wraps, and patches can sometimes be used continuously for up to 8 hours.

Unconventional Wisdom About Icing

Ice Versus Heat for Back Pain

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?

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What Is Heat Useful For

Heat is useful for relieving:

  • osteoarthritis
  • tendonitis, or chronic irritation and stiffness in the tendons
  • warming up stiff muscles or tissue before activity
  • relieving pain or spasms relating to neck or back injury, including the lower back

Applied to the neck, heat may reduce the spasms that lead to headaches.

In 2006, a team of researchers found that patients with lower back pain who exercised and use continuous low-level heat wrap therapy experienced less pain than those who did not use CLHT.

Previous studies had shown that, for some people, CLHT relieved pain more effectively than oral analgesics, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen.

However, the effectiveness of heat treatment may depend on the depth of the tissue affected by the pain or injury.

Some people use heat treatment, often in the form of a hot bath, to stave off DOMS.

There is some evidence that this might help, but heat that is applied for only 5 to 20 minutes may be less effective, as does not have the chance impact the deeper levels of tissue.

Some researchers have that moist chemical heat packs, which can be used for 2 hours, may be the best way to prevent DOMS through heat treatment.

How Ice Works To Relieve Pain And Reduce Inflammation

Ice narrows the blood vessel lumen , which limits blood flow to your soft tissues.

The control of blood flow helps in pain control by reducing the flow of irritating chemicals that can flood the injury site. While these chemicals are a natural and useful response to inflammation, keeping them in check helps control pain.

Reduced blood flow also helps control excessive swelling.

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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

Tips When Using Heat And Ice Therapy

NEWGO®Gel Ice Pack for Back Pain Reusable Lower Back Ice Pack Wrap with ...

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.

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Ice To Relieve Back Pain

Ice and cold packs can relieve pain, swelling, and inflammation from injuries and other conditions such as arthritis. Use either a commercial cold pack or:

  • An ice towel. Wet a towel with cold water, and squeeze it until it is just damp. Fold the towel, place it in a plastic bag, and freeze it for 15 minutes. Remove the towel from the bag, and place it on the affected area.
  • An ice pack. Put about 1 lb of ice in a plastic bag. Add water to barely cover the ice. Squeeze the air out of the bag and seal it. Wrap the bag in a wet towel and apply it to the affected area.
  • A homemade slush pack. Mix 3 cup water and 1 cup denatured alcohol in a freezer bag. Seal the bag, and place it in freezer until slush forms. Refreeze the bag when the slush melts.
  • A bag of frozen vegetables.
  • An ice cup. Fill a paper cup two-thirds full with water, and freeze it until it is solid ice. Before use, peel back enough paper to expose some of the ice. Rub the ice over the affected area for 3 to 5 minutes.

Ice the area at least 3 times a day. For the first 72 hours , ice for 10 minutes once an hour the first day, then every 2 to 3 hours. After that, a good pattern is to ice for 10 to 15 minutes 3 times a day: in the morning, in the late afternoon after work or school, and about a half hour before bedtime. Also ice after any prolonged activity or vigorous exercise.


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