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  • Writer's pictureGilda Gilak, DC, MS

Ice or Heat for Low Back Pain?

On average everyone will experience one episode of Low Back Pain in their life time. Treatment that most people use are from over the counter remedies to muscle relaxant or Ice or heat compression. But the question remains on the type of compression therapy would be useful? The answer is it depends on the type of back pain he or she is suffering from. In order to know what compress is best it is wise to speak with an doctor about the back injury before using the wrong kind of compress.

Hot compresses are recommended by orthopedic, Chiropractic, or Primary Care doctors to use on muscle injuries or common aches and pains from moving around a lot. Heat can help to relax the back muscles and relief tension, which in the end helps ease pain in the back. Heat is good for back stiffness and muscle spasms. Heat compresses are used every couple of hours throughout the day until the back discomfort begins to ease away. The types of heat compresses that can be useful are heating pads, hot patches and body wrap warmers. Warm baths are also useful for back pain relief, for example sitting in heated bath or Jacuzzis. However, when sudden injuries occur to the back such as a Muscle sprain, broken bone or other kind of physically injury such as auto accidents, fall or any other types of impact, cold compresses are usually useful, specially in the first 24 hours post injury.

Cold compresses causes vast-constriction which help relief inflammation and swelling. These types of compresses also help relieve pain and aches too and should be utilized. Cold compresses are used to relief back pain by applying one every twenty to thirty minutes until relief is found. The types of cold compresses that can be useful for easing back pain away are ice packs, cold cloths, cooling body wraps and cold baths. However, some back problems that cause discomfort require a therapy that recommends the patient to use a combination of both hot and cold. This means twenty-minutes or so with a cold compress first and than an hour later twenty minutes with a hot one. This therapy is repeated throughout the entire day until the back pain begins to subside.

Before treating a back condition with compresses it is best to have the back injury checked out by a doctor so he or she can recommend the proper treatment. Sometimes a combination of Manual therapy, Spinal manipulation or medication is needed along with the hot and cold therapy relief to rid the back pain away completely.

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