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Should I Use A Heating Pad For Back Pain

Piezo1 And Piezo2 Use The Force

How to Use Heating Pad for Back Pain? Worth it?

Piezo1 and Piezo2 both react to the flexing of the cell membranes in which they are thickly embedded, like rhinestones on an Elvis impersonator. The deformation of the cell membrane is a microcosm of a thumb pressing into your skin, which bends the membranes of the nerve cells in the area, opening millions of Piezo1 and Piezo2 proteins, so that kajillions of ions can pass through them, triggering nerve impulses.

This is scientific reductionism at its most dazzling, revealing the exotic nano-scale engines that power familiar human experiences, the answer at the end of a chain of childs but why questions.

The thumb bends the skin, flexing the membranes of every cell in the area. Proteins embedded in the cell membranes, Piezo1 & Piezo2, transduce the flexion into nerve impulses.

But they also power un-familiar human experiences! What we consciously feel thanks to the Piezo proteins is the tip of a mighty iceberg of subtle sensation. The biological power and utility of these engines is breathtaking. They are responsible not just for the pressure component of touch, but a truly staggering variety of other biological signals, from knowing when your bladder is full to the position of your limbs are in space to which direction your eyes are pointing.

The Proteins Of Danger

Being an organism is perilous. Every living thing needs to know when its being poked, specifically and especially whether or not it is being done too hard. We also have to know when its too hot or too cold. Pressure and temperature detection are about as elementary as sensation gets. Many simple organisms can do as much, even the ones that have only a single cell.

Extremes of pressure and temperature are usually experienced as an alarm as pain ideally before any damage is done.

Of course we also need to know when its too late and weve actually been damaged nothing is more dangerous than already being hurt . And these receptors are partially involved in that too. For instance, TRPV1 also reacts to inflammation.

Almost everything biology has eighteen jobs.

TRPV1 also detects spice. Which is not threatening, but absolutely can feel like it. But spiciness is not for the birds which is why the plants use it! An explanation of that weird sentence below.

Also: How hot can you take your bath? How can the same pressure be bliss for one person and torture for another? Finally I will track the biological oddity of spicy heat to a cool clinical question: can we exploit the nature of TRPV1 receptors to treat pain?

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.

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Still Not Sure Try Both Heat And Ice

In the world of pain, sometimes your body will simply respond differently than someone elses. Thats because pain can be a subjective experience which varies from one individual to the next.

If cold or heat makes your pain worse, its perfectly acceptable to try the opposite. My advice on choosing either heat or cold therapy will work in the majority of cases, but if it doesnt for you, experiment to find out what works best.

Also, many find alternating between heat and ice can be helpful following initial treatment. This can be especially effective at breaking a recurring cycle of muscle spasms.

For example, if you have a Charley horse in your calf, apply heat and massage to help your muscle relax. Then alternate between an ice pack and heat to relieve soreness once the initial painful spasm has released. But start with heat to relieve the muscle cramp first.

Or if you sprained your ankle, use the RICE protocol to relieve pain and swelling. After a day or two of rest, ice, compression and elevation, you may find alternating heat and ice work well in speeding the healing process. But start with icing for the injury.

Use Cold First And Then Apply Heat For Acute Back Pain

The Wearable Heated Lumbar Pad

When your back pain is acute and/or occurs due to a direct injury, use cold therapy first.2 Lowering the body temperature will help constrict the blood vessels, reduce swelling, decrease inflammation, and cause a numbing effect.1,3

See Ice Packs for Back Pain Relief

Once the inflammation has subsided, use heat therapy. When you apply heat, it improves the flexibility of soft tissues, movement of muscles, and overall functioning of the back. The local warmth stimulates blood circulation in your lower back, which in turn brings healing nutrients to the injured tissues.

It is also advised to continue using heat therapy intermittently for several hours or days in order to improve tissue healing and prevent recurrence of pain.2

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

Ice Or Heat For Back Pain

30-Second Blog Snapshot:

  • Conservative therapies, such as hot or cold packs, exercising, and over-the-counter pain relievers may help mitigate pain in between interventional pain treatments.
  • Patients hoping to relieve low back pain with a heat or ice pack may be confused about which one to use for their pain.
  • At Southwest Spine and Pain Center, Utahs leading pain management group, physicians explain the difference between ice and heat packs for back pain.

Although ice and heat can be beneficial at relieving certain musculoskeletal pains, there are instances where one should be used over the other. A great rule of thumb to follow may be this: ice is for injuries heat is for muscle pain. Well elaborate:

Ice Is For Injuries

When you sustain any injury of any kind, your body responds by inflaming or swelling its tissues to prevent infectious agents and other debris from impeding recovery. Although this inflammatory process is completely normal, it can be incredibly painful depending on the cause or condition of your injury. Therefore, its important to apply ice to your injury not just to calm swelling, but to also reduce pain. Nevertheless, there are certain situations ice should be avoided and that is when your muscles are sore or stressed. Ice can cause severe trigger points and spasms to develop when its applied to sore muscles, which leads us to our next point: heat is for muscle pain.

Heat Is For Muscle Pain

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Barfing Interlude: What Does Capsaicin Have To Do With Violent Vomiting

Cannabis can cause a severe and surprisingly non-rare violent vomiting problem called cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome.31 It probably does this by burning out TRPV1 receptors which are sensitive to cannabinoids! No one knows for sure, but thats the most likely reason. Widespread downregulation of TRPV1 receptors causes vomiting! Maybe. The details are hazy.

These tragic patients it really is an awful thing habitually self-treat with the hottest showers and baths they tolerate. They may be trying to compensate for the lack of TRPV1 receptor activity with a different and strong source of stimulation for them.

So how about capsaicin? Thats another source of strong stimulation for TRPV1 receptors! Gold star if you saw this coming. See Moon et al for a good technical summary of the rationale .32

The logic is simultaneously based on some seriously advanced biology and yet it kinda boils down to well, lets try to give those TRPV1 receptors a good kick, like Fonzi bashing an appliance.

Alas, it doesnt seem to work terribly well, despite the clever rationale.33 But it is, at least, a really interesting idea.

When And How Long Should You Ice An Injury

Heating Pad For Back Pain, Benefits of electrical heating pad for Knee pain, NECK & SHOULDER PAIN

The sooner you ice an injury the better. Your goal should be to begin icing within five minutes.

Normally youll want to apply ice for 20 minutes, then allow the area to rest without ice for 20 minutes. Repeat this process as much as possible during the first 48 to 72 hours following injury to relieve swelling and inflammation pain.

Again, dont forget to allow the injured area to rest and recover, add compression and elevate an injury when possible.

Ice may also be helpful when dealing with a flare up of pain from a previous injury. But before you head to the freezer

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When To Use Heat And When To Use Ice

Keep in mind that heat isnt recommended for every type of back pain. It can relieve chronic pain and stiffness, such as those associated with arthritis and other muscle or joint ailments.

However, if your back injury is recent, cold therapy is more effective because it restricts blood vessels and reduces swelling, which can dull pain.

Use cold therapy for the first 24 to 48 hours after an injury, and then switch to heat therapy to stimulate blood flow and healing.

When Should I Avoid Heat Therapy

Avoid heat therapy if you have existing skin conditions, high-blood pressure, or mental ailments.

Some specific conditions affected by heat therapy are:

  • Rashes and lesions
  • Deep-vein thrombosis
  • Diabetes

Heat encourages bacterial growth in open lesions and can irritate rashes. Dont apply heat to these conditions if there is a chance it will worsen.

Vascular disease and deep-vein thrombosis are also affected by heat. Warmth causes heart rate to rise and blood to flow more freely. Extra blood flow may affect clotting problems with deep vein thrombosis. It can irritate veins and arteries that are affected by disease. Direct heat can also exacerbate problems associated with heart disease and hypertension. Increased heart rate from raised body heat can stress an already compromised cardiovascular system.

Diabetics may experience significant discomfort from sudden changes like applied heat. If you suffer from diabetes, avoid applied heat for pain relief.

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Heat Therapy For Neck Pain

Applying heat is one method for treated aches and pains. This can be accomplished through ultrasound heat or applying heating pads to the affected area. There are several mechanisms by which heat therapy reduces pain and aids in healing. These include:

  • increasing blood flow to the area
  • increasing oxygen uptake rate
  • relieving muscle spasms

The Amount Of Heat That You Need

Best Large Heating Pad For Back Pain

Before we move on how to apply the heat pad through your lower back, you need to know the best temperature first. Preferably, the best heat therapy is at a warm temperature. If too high, well, it can burn your skin and will only cause injury. By using warm temperature, it will allow the heat to penetrate down through the lower muscles without causing your skin to burn.

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Waiting More Than A Week Without Seeing A Doctor

Many people suffer and wait, thinking their pain will go away on its own. But pain that persists tends to get worse, not better, if you neglect it.

INSTEAD If you have any kind of consistent pain or issue that doesnt go away, get a diagnosis and treatment plan from a healthcare professional. Make sure nothing more serious is going on. Give yourself the gift of days without pain.

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Ease Aches And Sore Muscles In Minutes

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Aches and pains in your muscles and joints can make it debilitating to go about your daily routine. Investing in a heating pad is a medication-free way to address this pain without leaving the comfort of your own home. These pads offer swift and effective heat to the areas of concern within minutes, immediately alleviating soreness youre experiencing. Not to mention, they’re great for colder seasons.

Applying heat to a sore muscle will improve blood flow which increases the amount of oxygen and nutrients the muscle has enhancing tissue healing, says Alyssa Raineri, DPT, a Florida-based physical therapist. Heat can also treat stiff muscles and joints by decreasing muscle spasms and increasing tissue elasticity allowing for improvement with joint mobility.”

Here are the best heating pads on the market today.

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Red Rub Red Rub The Rubefaciants

These nostrums are sometimes classified as rubefaciants because many of them cause reddening of the skin. Not all them. In fact, this is not actually due to capsaicin, which surprisingly does not actually turn the skin red.25

However, many of these products contain other compounds that do increase superficial circulation, for whatever its worth.26 Its also worth noting that many of them do not actually contain capsaicin at all, including classic Tiger Balm .

Home Heat Therapy Instructions

Should I use Ice or Heat for Low Back Pain?

Before we describe the two common methods of using a heating pad at home, here are the basic instructions to using home heat therapy.

Apply to affected area for NO LONGER than 15 minutes. Use a layer of towels between your skin and the heating pad. Remove for at least 1 hour then repeat. 2-3 applications a day is advisable. Dry electric heating pads are not recommended.

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When Ice Therapy Is Not The Answer

As with heat therapy, there are times when it can be tempting to slap a bag of ice on any sore or twitching muscle. But doing ice therapy for back spasm and a number of other problems can actually do more harm than good.

You should not ice for:

  • General muscle pains
  • Reducing body fat

Also, this is pretty intuitive, but you should not apply ice if youre already shivering.

Another word to the wiseyou may think you have pulled or strained a muscle in the back or neck, but actual tissue damage is quite rare. The tissue of the back is really thick and it takes a lot of forcelike whiplash from a car accident or lifting something very heavyto actually tear muscles.

So when it comes to answering the questionwhats good for back pain, heat or cold?heat usually wins out.

And if you indeed have a back strain from lifting or something else, you should only apply ice for a few days and then switch to heating pads.

How Does Heat Therapy Work

In general terms, using a heated back brace or soaking in a warm tub brings a lot of therapeutic benefits. For most people, heat is comforting, relaxing and reassuring.

Chronic pain goes hand-in-hand with sensitization, anxiety, tension, and hypervigilance. Applying comfortable heat to your stiff back muscles or relaxing in a sauna can soothe an over-stressed nervous system.

More scientifically speaking, heat can help your blood vessels to dilate, allowing blood to flow more freely. This helps with the removal of toxins and encourages healing.

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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

Safety Tips When Using Heating Pads

CREATRILL Heating Pad Lumbar Support Back Brace Belt

Due to damaged nerves, diabetic people usually suffer from cramps as well as joints and body pain, particularly in the legs and arms. Although heating pads are NOT advisable to use for diabetic people, some insist on continuing to use one.

Here are the tips that you can do to use it safely:

  • Buffer your skin by placing thick towels in between your skin and the heating pad.
  • When using a heating pad or heating blanket, dont ever use it on your skin with over 100 F temperature.
  • If you have open wounds, never apply heat or cold treatment as that may cause slower healing of wounds.
  • Dont sleep with a heating pad on, particularly electric types. This may cause your skin to get burnt when it accidentally malfunctions.
  • When using a heating pad on any part of your body, monitor your skin. Remember, diabetics tend to lose sensation in some parts of their body at times. So, make sure to check your skin every few minutes.
  • When using a heating pad regardless of the type, be mindful and ALWAYS use it with caution.

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