Back pain can be excruciating and many people use heating pads to get some relief. But does a heating pad ease back pain? Below, we look at how they work.

Many people suffer from back pain which can have a variety of causes from injuries to chronic conditions. Back pain, particularly lower back pain can result from strains and over-exertion, which creates tension in the muscles and soft tissues around the lower spine. Conditions affecting the back can also restrict proper circulation, and send pain signals to the brain. Some women experience not only stomach cramps but also lower back pain during their period.

Using a heating pad is a non-invasive and drug-free way to relieve back pain. If you use heat but it seems to increase your pain or cause a throbbing sensation, you should stop using it.

 

How Does a Heating Pad Relieve Back Pain? 

A heating pad can help relieve back pain through several mechanisms:

  • When heat is applied to the skin, the warm temperature causes the blood vessels to open wider (dilate) which increases blood flow to the muscles surrounding the lumbar spine. This process increases the flow of nutrients and oxygen to the muscles, which helps damaged tissue to heal.
  • The sensation of heat on the skin provides an analgesic Heat stimulates the sensory receptors in the skin to block the transmission of pain signals to your brain, which alters your perception of the pain so it doesn’t hurt as much.
  • Applying heat helps the soft tissues around the spine, including muscles and connective tissue increases their elasticity This results in a decrease in stiffness and an increase in flexibility. Minor pain or stiffness can often be relieved with only 15 to 20 minutes of heating pad use.
  • Applying a heating pad can also stimulate the elimination of toxins.
  • A heating pad has a soothing effect so can help to relax muscles and reduce stress and tension. Pain tends to feel worse when you are anxious, tense and stressed.
  • If painful knots are causing your pain, applying a heating pad can help reduce muscle tension.
  • Heat causes the release of endorphins. Endorphins are your body’s own natural painkillers.

Does a Heating Pad Ease Back Pain? The Evidence

 

Conclusion

Does a heating pad ease back pain?

There is research on the effectiveness of using a heating pad for back pain. That research shows that heating pads can provide relief for lower back pain but the therapy works best when combined with other treatments, such as physical therapy and exercise.

Consult your doctor to see if heat treatment is for you.

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