Did you know that the number one back pain question asked is “back pain relief: hot or cold”?
Here at Back Pain Daily News we focus on really digging out all the best back pain relief tips, treatments, products and exercises. If it helps relieve your back pain — then we will be bringing it to you. Now, let’s get back to that big back pain question – should you be using hot or cold to help relieve the back pain that is so hard to cure.
Here is what one of our “go to guys”, Jesse Canone had to say –
Back Pain Relief: Hot or Cold?
Heat and ice both do same thing—they shock the body into breaking the pain-spasm cycle. Heat causes the body to circulate more blood to the area in order to cool it down. That brings more oxygen and nutrients, and removes waste products, which help heal the tissue. Cold is similar—the body sends more blood to the area to warm it up and promote healing.
Heat or cold also shut down the nerves that fire the pain signals—heat relaxes them, cold numbs them. When the brain doesn’t get the pain signals, it doesn’t act to contract muscles and constrict blood flow. After applying heat or cold consistently and continually for a certain period of time, the pain-spasm cycle is broken. Then, real healing can begin.
Which Is Best?
If both heat and ice do the same thing, which is better to treat back pain? There are really no hard and fast rules, but I typically have my patients do the following:
1. When an injury first occurs, use ice first. This is true whether the injury is acute (caused by some trauma like lifting something heavy or sitting too long) or subacute (a flare-up of a chronic condition, like sciatica). It’s also important to use ice fast. You need to get ice to the injury within 5 minutes to get the best effect. If you’re not at home and don’t have ice handy, head to the 7-11 and buy a bag of ice. Begin treatment immediately. Apply ice for the first 48-72 hours. Use it for 20 minutes, then take it off for 20. Repeat as often as you can.
2. After 48-72 hours, when you feel the swelling has gown down and the pain-spasm cycle is broken, you can begin stretching the injured muscle with the appropriate exercises. At this point, choosing ice or heat is really up to you. Most people like heat before they exercise and ice after. Either way, you’re getting red blood cells to the area to promote healthy healing.
3. For a really advanced treatment plan, I recommend a contrast bath. Try 20 minutes of heat followed immediately by 20 minutes of ice. Repeat three times. The contrast really shocks the body and gets it out of the pain-spasm cycle.
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This really should help you answer this important question of “back pain relief: hot or cold”?
Did it help you decide?