Between 30 and 40% of adults experience back pain, with the number climbing with age. For some, back pain can be debilitating—or a nuisance, at best.
Medical professionals often recommend varying treatment plans based on the root cause of the pain. Yet, hot and cold therapy is a frequent recommendation, as the former helps loosen and soothe damaged muscles, while the latter can help reduce inflammation. So, let’s dig into these two methods further. Should you use heat and cold treatment to alleviate your back pain?
Heat can be an excellent resource when combatting back pain. It helps alleviate sore areas by increasing circulation and blood flow to the problem area through, well, heat. This, in turn, can help loosen and relax those muscles to soothe persistent discomfort and promote healing in damaged muscles.
There are a few types of heat therapy: dry and moist. The first involves dry heat sources, such as heating pads, saunas, or dry heating packs, and is easy to apply. The second option employs moist heat sources, such as steamed towels, hot baths, and moist heat packs, and can be slightly less convenient for application, as the wet source may lose heat quickly.
Cold therapy, also known as ice therapy or cryotherapy, can be another valuable tool for tackling pain emanating through your back. This type of therapy can help reduce inflammation by constricting the blood vessels. It can also temporarily relieve pain, as the cool temperature can reduce nerve activity.
This type of therapy is ideal for treating injured muscles, including strains and sprains, making it a standard solution in treating sports injuries. It’s important to note that you should never use cold therapy for more than 20 minutes at a time. Instead, repeat the process in cycles, waiting two to three hours between applications. Additionally, use a towel to protect your skin from the freezing temperature of the ice pack or frozen gel pack.
Is Hot or Cold Treatment Better for Back Pain?
Cold therapy is an excellent place to start when dealing with back pain due to a minor injury. Cool temperatures can help minimise inflammation in that area and supply pain relief in the first few days. However, heat is generally the better option in the days following, as it can help relieve stiffness in those muscles and may provide more pain relief.
Continuous, low-level heat is often the better option if you’re experiencing subacute or chronic back pain. Heating blankets, heat packs, and similar heating sources can deliver constant heat that stimulates and encourages healing.
Still Experiencing Back Pain? Talk to Our Chiropractor Today
Sometimes, heat and ice therapy may not make a significant difference in alleviating your back pain. In these cases, it’s best to seek medical advice from a licensed professional. Our experienced team at the Bradford House Chiropractic Clinic is trained to pinpoint and identify the cause of your back pain to provide a specific diagnosis and treatment plan.
If you’re experiencing back pain, don’t wait! Schedule an appointment with our chiropractor today. Get back to the activities you know and love!