What’s Better: Ice Or Heat For Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is a common condition. In fact, you are likely to experience it at some point in your life. While lower back pain can be a nuisance to your everyday life, conservative treatments are usually enough to treat it successfully. Two of these treatments are hot and cold therapy. Not only are both options incredibly convenient, they’re affordable as well.
If you’re living with lower back pain, you may be wondering which one is better. The answer is, “It depends on the timing of your back pain as well as its type.” Keep reading to learn more.
Can I Use Heat Therapy
Heat therapy can be very beneficial, especially in cases where people are suffering from chronic pain. It is relatively easy and inexpensive to use and typically provides quick, noticeable results. However, it is important to note that heat therapy can be dangerous if you have a preexisting health condition, such as dermatitis, diabetes, vascular disease, multiple sclerosis or deep vein thrombosis. Individuals with heart disease or hypertension also should avoid it. If you are pregnant, youll want to talk with your doctor before using a sauna or hot tub for heat therapy.
While we briefly mentioned it before, its also important to note you should avoid using heat therapy if your pain is coming from an open wound or an area of your body thats swollen or bruised. Its just not the right treatment for these issues and could potentially cause problems because there are certain conditions such as swelling where it may not be good to increase circulation to the affected area.
When To Use Heat Therapy For Back Pain
Is heat good for back pain? The answer depends on what type of back pain you are trying to address. If you are living with chronic pain or discomfort that lasts for more than four weeks, heat may help relax the tissues in the area and decrease pain signals. Heat can also encourage blood vessels in your back to dilate, which can promote healing.
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Should You Move To A Warmer Climate For Back Pain Relief
Several mental, emotional, and physical factors play into pain perception, and moving to a sunny locale may not be the answer. However, Dr. Hayden said warmer climates have been long thought to be healthier for several conditions. You are more likely to be in the sun, so youre more likely to be sucking up vitamin D, which is good for bones and joints, he said. Youre more likely to be in a better mood and stay physically active.
But, if moving to a year-round warm climate isnt an option, lifestyle changes are typically enough to do the trick, Dr. Hayden said. He also said certain clinical treatments, like an infrared sauna, help capture the benefits of the sun even during the darkest winter days.
Many of my patients in chronic pain feel relatively pain-free and relaxed after sitting in an infrared sauna, he said. Unlike harmful ultraviolet rays, infrared light is healthy light from the sun. This light penetrates deeply into your tissues, warms you, makes your connective tissue stretchier, he said. Connective tissue that moves better, hurts less.
Aquatic Therapy And Whirlpools
Physical therapists often recommend aquatic therapy including exercises done in warm, therapeutic pools for back pain. The buoyancy of the water helps alleviate strain on the joints to encourage strengthening and gentle stretching of the muscles. Even floating in warm water can help relax muscles and release tension as well as increase circulation, according to the Arthritis Foundation. With home whirlpool baths, try aiming the jets directly at your sore spots for a soothing underwater massage.
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How To Loosen Tight Lower Back Muscles Using Heat Therapy
Wellcare Is Here For You
From heating cushions to electric heating pads, Wellcare offers an array of convenient solutions that can not only help you reduce neck or back muscle stress, but also give you warmth and comfort during cold winter nights.
We use only high-quality fabrics such as fleece in order to make you as cosy as possible. In addition to that, we manufacture our products under strict guidelines to ensure your complete safety. Our electric heating products have an automatic shut-off feature to prevent overheating and skin burns.
All our products are equipped with the 4D Dynamic Warmth Flow technology. An innovation in the electric heating market, the 4D DWF mimics the human bodys breathing system to provide even heat distribution throughout the surface of the product.
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When Not To Use Ice
Cold is not suitable if:
- there is a risk of cramping, as cold can make this worse
- the person is already cold or the area is already numb
- there is an open wound or blistered skin
- the person has some kind of vascular disease or injury, or sympathetic dysfunction, in which a nerve disorder affects blood flow
- the person is hypersensitive to cold
Ice should not be used immediately before activity.
It should not be applied directly to the skin, as this can freeze and damage body tissues, possibly leading to frostbite.
Professional athletes may use ice massage, cold water immersion, and whole-body cryotherapy chambers to exercise-induced muscle damage that can lead to delayed onset muscle soreness . DOMS commonly emerges 24 to 48 hours after exercise.
A study published in The Cochrane Library in 2012 suggested that a cold bath after exercise may help prevent DOMS, compared with resting or doing nothing.
The participants spent between 5 and 24 minutes in water between 50 and 59 degrees Fahrenheit, or 10 to 15 degrees Celsius.
However, the researchers were not certain whether there may be negative side effects, or if another strategy might be more helpful.
Cryotherapy is primarily a pain-reliever. It will not repair tissues.
Can I Use Ice Therapy
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!
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Ice Massage For Sciatica
An ice massage is the application of ice directly on the affected area in a circular motion. Ice massages help relieve pain over a wider region. A hand-held ice unit can be made by freezing water in a paper cup and cutting the top half of the cup to expose the ice .
In the rear pelvic area, ice massage may be done directly on the skin for 3 to 6 minutes . An ice massage creates a cold feeling followed by a slight burning or tingling sensation, and finally, numbness occurs. Once numbness is felt, icing must be stopped to avoid frostbite. When the numbness wears off, the procedure can be repeated. This treatment can be done 2 or 3 times a day.
When To Use Hot Or Cold Treatment For Back Pain
If you are suffering with back pain, whether it is in the neck, between the shoulder blades or in the lower back, it can sometimes be difficult to know what to do. Do you sit, rest, keep active, use heat or cold?
The most common cause of back pain is when the joints of the back become restricted due to abnormal stress such as, incorrect posture, degeneration and emotional stress. This causes tightening and inflammation around the joints resulting in muscles tightening in order to protect that area of the spine from further trauma. However, muscle tightness, causes the joint to be even more restricted in movement and therefore causes more joint inflammation and the cycle continues. People suffer from different types of back pain, some with tightening but others without, and therefore they will require a different treatment plan.
Secondary problems of muscle tightness and joint inflammation require ongoing treatment so there are certain things you can do to relieve the pain.
The recommended treatment for back pain without muscle tightness is a cold treatment. This is simply a cold pack applied to the injury, which acts like a painkiller reducing the inflammation. A cold treatment can be used in any area of inflammation. i.e. spine or joint inflammation and restriction, knee swelling, sprained ankle etc.
Hot & Cold Treatment
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Hot Vs Cold Water In Your Bag
In the meantime, many pieces of research have proved that cold water has as well as hot water some exquisite and efficient results when it comes to reducing back pain.
In fact, there is no need to get confused about which type of water you should use to relieve your pain because they are almost the same.
So what most people do as usual is to use the hot water in their bags in cold weather and the cold water in the summer.
Also, you can obviously distinguish between them by choosing what could really suit you.
So here are some pros of cold water:
- It retracts the tissues of your back
- It works better for inflammations
- It reduces the swelling and perspiration
And so on
For the pros of hot water we find that:
- It can increase your blood flow
- It reduces tension
- It wards off muscle spasms of your back
To be more satisfied, Try them out yourself and find out which one suits you the most!
Exercise To Loosen Muscles
Although it may seem counterintuitive to exercise when lower back pain is causing you grief, the right kind of movement can help eliminate the discomfort. Its always important to consult your physician before you engage in exercise when you have pain, but this conversation is well worth having if youre suffering.
First, you should keep in mind that not all exercise is beneficial in combating back pain. Try to avoid toe-touch exercises and sit-ups, which may add to the stress on your spine instead of relieving it. Leg lifts are another exercise to stay away from when you are hurting. If your core is not strong, leg lifts could be too demanding on your body if youre already experiencing pain.
Several types of exercises can be useful when you need to relieve back pain. Partial crunches can aid in strengthening your core without applying too much pressure to the area. Slow and controlled wall-sit exercises may also be useful. Other repetitions to consider include bringing each knee to the chest in succession, pelvic tilts, and swimming.
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Q: Which Will Work Better For My Painful Arthritic Joints Heat Or Cold
A: Applying heat or cold to a painful area is a simple, inexpensive method for relieving pain. Cold reduces swelling and numbs the area. Heat loosens up muscles, increases flexibility and increases circulation. For an acute injury, such as a pulled muscle or injured tendon, the usual recommendation is to start by applying ice to reduce inflammation and dull pain. Once inflammation has gone down, heat can be used to ease stiffness.
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For a chronic pain condition, such as osteoarthritis, heat seems to work best. However, some people find that cold also helps to dull the pain.
So whats the answer? Try them both and use whichever works best for you.
Exercise is an important part of treatment for osteoarthritis. Heat and cold can also be used to make exercising a little easier. Try using heat before exercise to loosen up muscles and cold afterward to minimize any achiness.
For heat, soak in a warm bath, hot tub or whirlpool for about 20 minutes. Or take a warm shower. Dress warmly afterward to prolong the benefit. A heating pad is another good way to warm up an area. You can also buy moist heat pads. Or, heat a damp washcloth in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Test it to make sure its not too hot. Wrap it in a dry towel and apply it to the painful area.
Contrast Therapy And Sports Recovery
Many athletes are known to take ice baths after training to lower inflammation, improve circulation, and reduce lactic acid build-up.
Hot and cold therapy may be effective in aiding recovery by reducing levels of both lactic acid and muscle soreness.
It may be particularly beneficial for those who have a second workout planned for later in the day, as it doesnt shut the body down in the way pure ice therapy does.
However, for most people, contrast therapy and ice therapy arent necessary post-workout treatmentstheyre better saved for injury recovery.
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Best Practices: How To Ice Your Back
Remedies To Relieve Lower Back Pain Fast
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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Hot And Cold Therapy For Back Pain
Back pain can be caused by different types of injuries. However no matter what kind of injury youve sustained, hot and cold therapy for back pain is an important part in beginning the process to alleviate your pain.
How does hot and cold therapy for back pain work?
Hot cold therapy for back pain is a very common home treatment after an injury. Both the ice and heat therapy when used together can drastically diminish pain and speed up recovery. Most doctors recommend that you begin by using ice to prevent internal bleeding and/or swelling after an injury, and then after 24-72 hours depending on the seriousness of the injury, use heat to promote blood circulation and speed-up healing.
Ice is good for headaches, bumps, sprains, and strains that may occur with sports, slips and falls, or lifting. Ice therapy is also helpful in treating some overuse injuries or chronic pain in athletes.
- Ice calms down damaged tissue
- Slows down the blood flow to an injury
- Loosen the tight back muscles
- Reduces the inflammation, swelling that is causing the pain
- Inhibit your nerve impulses
Cold therapy is most commonly done through ice packs or short amounts of time in ice baths.
Indications for Use:
Acute pain, sharp shooting pain, swelling, joint pain
CAUTION: Using ice constantly for a number of hours in a row may cause a decreased blood circulation in the area and may result in sores and adverse reactions.
Relax And Stay Positive
Trying to relax is a crucial part of easing the pain as muscle tension caused by worrying about your condition may make things worse.
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Although it can be difficult, it helps to stay positive and recognise that your pain should get better. People who manage to stay positive despite their pain tend to recover quicker.
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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.