Back Pain Cold Or Heat

Share This Post

Precautions And Safety Tips

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

Heating pads are effective for pain management, but they can be dangerous when used improperly. Here are a few safety tips to avoid injury.

  • Dont place a heating pad or heated gel pack directly on your skin. Wrap it in a towel before applying to skin to avoid burns.
  • Dont fall asleep using a heating pad.
  • When using a heating pad, start on the lowest level and slowly increase the heat intensity.
  • Dont use a heating pad that has a cracked or broken electrical cord.
  • Dont apply a heating pad to damaged skin.

When Not To Use

There are certain cases where heat therapy should not be used. If the area in question is either bruised or swollen , it may be better to use cold therapy. Heat therapy also shouldnt be applied to an area with an open wound.

People with certain pre-existing conditions should not use heat therapy due to higher risk of burns or complications due to heat application. These conditions include:

Heat therapy is often most beneficial when used for a good amount of time, unlike cold therapy, which needs to be limited.

Minor stiffness or tension can often be relieved with only 15 to 20 minutes of heat therapy.

Moderate to severe pain can benefit from longer sessions of heat therapy like warm bath, lasting between 30 minutes and two hours.

Ice Vs Heat For Lower Back Pain

For pain in your lower back, consider whether the pain may be caused by an injury, such as a pulled or strained muscle, or if it is chronic. For chronic pain, heat therapy might be best. Dry heat can be applied through a heating pad and moist heat by means of a warm bath or shower. Heat will relax those muscles.

But if your pain is caused by an injury, ice is the better option. In fact, heat may make your back pain worse.

Also Check: Ac Hotel North Hills Raleigh

Types Of Lower Back Pain That Benefit From Heat Or Ice

  • Chronic Conditions, such as: Herniated or Degenerated Discs, Spinal Stenosis, and Spondylolisthesis
  • Sports injuries, sprains, falls, or something directly impacting your lower back
  • Pulled back muscle from excessive strain or force
  • Exercise induced muscle soreness from overdoing a specific exercise or exercising without warming up

Relax And Stay Positive

Sure Thermal Lower Back Pain Relieve Hot/Cold Microwaveable Heat Pack ...

Trying to relax is a crucial part of easing the pain as muscle tension caused by worrying about your condition may make things worse.

Read more about:

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.

You May Like: How To Remedy Lower Back Pain

You May Like: How To Stop Ac From Freezing

Adding Activity May Be Your Best Bet

The review found that advice to stay active after an injury yielded the best effects in terms of functioning and pain relief. The authors explained that staying active significantly reduced sick leave as well as a chronic disability for up to 1 year when compared with traditional medical treatment.

And, a 2006 Cochrane review entitled, “A Cochrane review of superficial heat or cold for low back pain,” found moderate evidence in a few studies for heat wrap therapy as a way to reduce pain and disability in the short term. This was true for people who were in both acute and sub-acute stages of the injury.

The researchers also found that adding exercise further reduced pain and improved functioning in study participants. Similar to the BMJ review discussed above, the Cochrane authors say that there’s not enough evidence to evaluate the effects of cold for low back pain and conflicting evidence for any differences between heat and cold for low back pain.

So for now, and into the foreseeable future, this decision is likely best made by you, the person with the back pain. Which makes your back feel better heat or ice?

  • French SD1, Cameron M, Walker BF, Reggars JW, Esterman AJ. A Cochrane review of superficial heat or cold for low back pain. Spine . 2006 Apr 20 31:998-1006.

How To Safely Apply Ice And Heat

You can apply ice and heat in lots of ways. Our experts generally recommend up to 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off:

  • Ice packs: Frozen peas or corn, ice cubes in a baggie or frozen gel pack. You can ice beyond 48 hours, until swelling, tenderness or inflammation are gone.
  • Ice massage: Freeze water in a Dixie cup, peel back the top, and massage the tender area until its numb. .
  • Cold masks: Place a cold mask, available at drugstores, over your eyes or lay a towel soaked in cold water over your forehead and temples.
  • Moist heat: Enjoy a bath, shower, hot tub or whirlpool using warm, not hot, water .
  • Heat wraps: Drape a heat wrap, available at drugstores, around your neck like a scarf .
  • Heating pads: To avoid burns, remove heating pads if the area becomes uncomfortably warm.

Recommended Reading: Heat Or Ice On Muscle Spasms

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.

Donât Miss: What Kind Mattress Is Best For Back Pain

Accelerates Your Backs Recovery After A Hard Workout

Treat With Cold? Heat? Trigger Points, Muscle Injuries, Sprains-Back, Neck, Shoulder, & Knee Pain)

A workout can be intense, particularly to your back. If youâre a back pain patient, the suggestion from doctors is to use cold therapy right after exercise. The first effect of it will be relaxing your muscles and tissues and preventing inflammation.When your back muscles get inflamed during or after a workout, you must use ice after the training. This not only will ease up the inflammation, but itâll help you recover faster for the next workout.After the cold treatment, doctors recommend waiting 24 hours and then applying heat therapy to your back. This will encourage your tissues to heal.

Read Also: Ac By Marriott Santa Rosa

How Does An Ice Pack Help

So what happens when you apply an ice pack to the back or knee? The cold temperatures restrict blood flow to your muscles, which helps to reduce bruising, swelling and pain.

Once you remove the ice pack, your muscles will warm and blood vessels expand, ushering in a flood of new blood, helping to clear debris left by injury and accelerating the healing process.

Cold therapy is a great option for fresh injuries like a pulled, sprained or strained back muscle or a new case of IT band syndrome.

Low Back Pain: Ice Or Heat

Should you apply cold or heat to treat lower back pain? Cold packs reduce swelling and inflammation, and help reduce pain. Although most muscle injuries respond well to alternating heat and cold, back pain may respond better to heat1.

The best solution is what works best for you. Try using heat to relax the muscles, then apply cold. If cold does not help, stick with heat, but dont overdo it.

Heat: Moist heat works best. Use hot packs, baths or showers, or an all-day heat wrap available in pharmacies. Heating pads are dry heat but convenient. Apply heat for 15 20 minutes at a time.

Cold: A frozen towel, an ice pack or a homemade slush pack, a bag of frozen vegetables are all options to ice your back. Ice at least 3 times a day. Icing remedies from

Alternate: Switching between heat and cold works best for many people. Use either for 15 20 minutes, wait a few hours and alternate.


  • French SD, et al. . Superficial heat or cold for low back pain. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews .
  • Recommended Reading: Ac Smith Proline Water Heater

    How Can I Treat Back Pain At Home

    Back pain can be debilitating and cause you to miss work. Its important to know the best ways to treat your back pain at home.

    You can treat your back pain with over-the-counter medications, heat therapy and stretching exercises. If these treatments dont relieve your pain, your doctor may recommend prescription medications or physical therapy.

    Here are some things you can do to ease back pain at home:

    Get plenty of sleep. Sleep helps reduce stress on the body and helps rebuild muscles that have been injured during the day.

    Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen . Dont take more than 4 grams of acetaminophen in 24 hours, or 3 grams of ibuprofen in 24 hours without consulting your doctor first.

    Apply heat or cold packs to the affected area to relieve muscle spasms and swelling. Apply heat for 15 minutes before exercise and cold packs afterward if needed.

    Do stretching exercises to move your joints through their full range of motion several times each day especially after getting up from bed or sitting for long periods of time until you feel better. You can find stretching instructions online or in books about health and fitness,

    Back pain is a common problem. It can be caused by many things, including muscle strains, arthritis and herniated discs.

    Here are some tips for treating back pain at home:

    Back pain can be debilitating, but there are ways to treat it without resorting to pills or surgery.

    How To Loosen Tight Lower Back Muscles Using Heat Therapy

    Waist Heating Pad Belt Lower Back Heat Wrap Hot and Cold Therapy with 3 ...
  • In most cases, applying heat to the painful area for up to 20 minutes an hour will help.
  • For more severe injuries, you may need to apply the heating pad to the low-, mid- or upper back for 30 minutes to two hours. In such cases, you should probably buy a reusable heating pad for back pain that wraps around the body.
  • Always place multiple layers of towels between your skin and the heat source to prevent burns.
  • Your heat belt should be at a warm temperature, not a hot one that could decrease comfort/burn skin.
  • You can use a heating pad to help with low-back pain during pregnancy, so long as you do not apply heat directly to the belly.
  • Read Also: Gas Hot Water Heater Lowes

    How Long Should You Lay On A Heating Pad For Back Pain

    The heating pad should stay on for about 30 minutes to be effective. The muscle or joint may not have an opportunity to warm up if you are on for too long.

    If you are using a heat pad for the first time and it is not working for you, try a different type of pad. For example, if you have a foam pad that is too warm, you can try using an air pad instead.

    Read Also: How To Stop Back Pain During Period

    Is Heat Or Cold Better For Low Back Pain

    Back pain can be crippling especially when your day-to-day life includes motion. If you handle back pain, right here are some remarkable ideas that can assist alleviate your misery.Copulate a pillow under your knees Is Heat Or Cold Better For Low Back Pain

    When you have back pain, sleeping can be tough. It can be a vicious circle because when you do not get enough sleep, your back pain may really feel worse. A poor rest position can likewise exacerbate back pain. Attempt pushing your side. Location a cushion between your knees to keep your spinal column in a neutral placement as well as relieve stress on your back. If you need to sleep on your back, slide a cushion under your knees. Make sure to sleep on a conveniently solid mattress.

    Read Also: How To Fix My Upper Back Pain

    Recommended Reading: How Often To Change Ac Filter In House

    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.

    Q: Which Will Work Better For My Painful Arthritic Joints Heat Or Cold

    Ice Or Heat For Back Pain Relief & Injury?

    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.

    Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services.Policy

    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 afterwards 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 afterwards 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.

    You May Like: Precision Air Heating And Cooling

    Include Hot/cold Therapy In Your Daily Routine

    Another way to be proactive about lower back pain is to find ways to use hot and cold therapy throughout your daily routine. Try:

    Keeping a heat patch near your bed in case you wake up with lower back pain Applying a cold patch to your lower back before you go to bed if you overexerted your lower back muscles that day Taking a warm bath or using other forms of heat therapy before bed if you have chronic lower back pain Taking ice packs or adhesive heat patches with you to work and when you travel

    From filling socks with ice to using heating and cooling gels, there are many ways to apply heat and cold to your lower back. Whatever method you prefer, make sure to avoid applying it directly to the skin . Also, limit applications to 1520 minutes at a time, and take a break for a few hours between applications. Lastly, check with your doctor or Los Angeles spine surgeon if your lower back pain isnt going away after a few weeks of hot and cold therapy.

    People who are having prolonged or severe lower back pain should reach out to the physicians at The Spine Institute. Whether they require medication, physical therapy, or a procedure such as spinal fusion surgery, Los Angeles patients can rely on the experience and expertise of our pioneering doctors to help them find relief from their pain. Call us today at 310-828-7757 to schedule an appointment.

    Ice Therapy For Back Pains

    Ice for impact injuries

    There are certain types of impact injuries that may benefit from ice therapy. These may include:

    • Sudden or high impact falls
    • High impact injury during sports
    • Sudden and sharp pain in the lower back
    • Sprains in your lower back

    For these types of lower back pain, ice therapy or an ice pack may help to soothe the muscles, reduce any localised inflammation and minimise the pain.

    Pushing yourself too extensive workouts

    Many people engage in rigorous exercise and dont realize that they could be injuring their back. If you havent warmed up or cooled down properly, then you could experience pain in the aftermath of your exercise. Not only immediately after your workout, but up to several days after.

    This is called delayed onset muscle soreness and may lead to inflammation and pain in your body. Ice therapy immediately after intense exercise may aid in inflammation reduction and reduced tissue damage.

    According to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research cold immediately after exercise or 24 hours later was superior to heat in reducing pain.

    After a day or two, you could switch to heat therapy, as discussed in the following paragraph.

    Also Check: Why Is My Home Ac Not Blowing Cold Air

    Related Posts