Hot and Cold Therapy for Back Pain

with 4 Comments

[Disclosure: This post may contain some affiliate links.  Meaning: If you would decide to make a purchase through those links, we would get a commission (at no costs to you)]

Back pain can be caused by different types of injuries.  However no matter what kind of injury you’ve 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 Therapy

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.

Key points:
  • 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

  • Use right after an injury or the pain area of the back
  • Ice at least three times a day for 10-15 minutes a time to reduce inflammation, swelling, and pain
  • Repeat for 3 hours in a row
  • Take 2 hours off and repeat as necessary
  • Do not apply ice directly to skin, use an ice bag

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.

Heat Therapy

Heat is a great way to help loosen up tight joints and tight muscles.  It is also a good method of pain relief for tension headaches, back pain, muscle strain and other chronic conditions.

Key points:
  • Heat promotes muscle relaxation
  • Opens blood vessels to increase blood flow
  • Healing nutrients and oxygen rush to the affected area to help it heal
  • Improved blood flow also helps cellular waste exit the area more efficiently
  • Increase range of motion

When using heat for back pain, it may help to know that moist heat is more effective for back pain relief than dry heat. This can be achieved through a warm bath or shower. A moist heating pad* can also work to provide relief. Other options to warm the back include hot water bottles* or a magnetic heat brace*.

Indications for Use:

Chronic pain, muscle strains, poor circulation

  • Always wait 24-72 hour before considering heat therapy depending on the seriousness of the injury
  • Moist heat for 20 minutes then rest for 40 minutes
  • Repeat for 3 hours in a row
  • Take 2 hours off and repeat as necessary
  • Do not apply high heat directly to skin, use a thin towel
  • For chronic lower back pain, all-day heat wraps are available and can be worn and reheated throughout the day for constant relief
  • It is not recommended to use heat if there is a swelling or bruising

Use extreme caution with electric heating pads, as they commonly cause burns. Do not ever go to sleep with an electric heating pad on your skin, as it can cause adverse effects and burns over time.

General Tips for Hot and Cold Therapy for Back Pain
  • Do not lie on a heat or cold pack to avoid falling asleep and potentially burning yourself
  • Don’t use heat if you have no feeling in that affected part of your body or if you have a medical condition such as diabetes
  • During treatment check skin every 5 minutes to make sure there is no damage, such as freezing burn (skin would become reddened or blistered, just as when burned with heat)

Using hot and cold therapy for back pain is helpful in remedying pain, but not the only way to alleviate back pain.  Please also remember to always consult your doctor before treatment.

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4 Responses

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    • Neotech Care

      Hi, thank you for your comment! Many people have back problem, especially old people. And also many people would like to apply an ice bag when they hurt their back before going to the hospital, and use a heating pad to relieve back pain due to overwork. Hot and cold therapy can not cure back pain, but can relieve back pain, that’s what this post talking about!