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Hot or Cold Therapy for Back Pain

Many of us will have experienced a back injury at some point in our lives, and most can testify as to how painful it can be. It’s not unusual to adopt a trial and error method to relieve the pain. Two of the most popular methods of alleviating pain is through heating and / or cooling the area through the use of hot and cold therapy. However, there can be some confusion as to which kind of treatment is best for use on different injuries. There are those who argue that neither treatments are truly effective, more a short term solution. However, for the most part people cannot deny how much better they feel after a hot bath or applying a cold compress. To get the benefit from either treatment, you should first understand what each treatment is used for. Using Ice for Injuries Receiving an injury when exercising is more common than you think, and the swelling of muscles immediately following an injury can be very painful. Whilst ice doesn’t provide a miracle cure, it does help lower the inflammation of damaged tissue. It is an ideal treatment for those who would rather avoid using medicine for the pain. There are a number of ways in which ice is applied to an injury, with most having the same overall effect. Some people may opt to use an instant ice pack, while others may just head to the freezer for the real thing. When using ice for pain relief, you should never apply it for longer than 20 minutes. It is also worth noting that applying too much ice can cause tissue damage, so while it can be tempting to apply more ice in order to ease the pain, it could actually have the opposite effect. Using Heat for Muscles and Stress Heat is seen as the main treatment for those with a bad back, as it can be used to focus on certain trigger points. Many who suffer from an injured back will swear that a hot bath is the answer, and this is often true. As well as calming the nervous system, heat will also reduce stress and tension, as stress can do a lot to add to the pain being experienced. People apply heat to injuries via a number of different ways. There is of course a hot bath that helps relax those suffering from a bad back. But those with an injury can also apply heat via a herbal heat pads or hot/cold packs. It is vital that you take care when applying any kind of heat treatment. For example, try to wrap your heat sources with a towel so you don’t incur burns. What If I Use the Wrong Treatment? While not life-threatening, there can be some consequences if you use the wrong treatment for a back injury. For example, if you were to use heat on a muscle that’s inflamed, you could find that the inflammation is made worse. Similarly, ice can make tensed up muscles feel stiffer than they need to be. Of course not every injury is black-and-white, and there can be different circumstances as to why a certain treatment needs to be used. If you are in any doubt then it is always advisable to seek medical advice in the first instance.