Many people wonder whether to use ice or heat for back pain.

lower back painIt is really not all that difficult to understand once you understand the purposes of each treatment for your back.

Ice or Heat for Back Pain?

Ice for the Back

Ice should be the first thing you think of when you sustain a back injury.  Ice is the perfect choice for reducing the inflammation that begins as soon as you get injured.

Place the ice directly over the injured site and sit back, allowing the ice to do its work.  If you do not have a purchased ice pack, take a plastic bag and put ice in it or use a plastic bag full of peas or chopped carrots.  Be sure to use a cloth between the ice and your skin so you won’t get too cold or get frostbite.

Put the ice on for about thirty minutes at a time, giving the back a rest for another thirty minutes while the ice pack cools down some more and then you can put the ice pack back on again.

Ice should be applied during the height of inflammation, which is in the first 24 to 48 hours following the injury.  After that, you can turn to using heat to relieve muscle spasm.

Heat for the Back

Whether you use ice or heat for back pain, you should know that heat has its best effectiveness when there is muscle spasm in the back.  After the first 48 hours, spasm tends to occur in the back muscles, which perpetuate the pain.  The back is often stiff and doesn’t move in its proper range of motion.

Heat can be applied through the use of a heating pad or a jade heating mat, which provides far infrared ray heat (FIR heat) to the deeper muscles of the back.  Either way, the back muscles get relief of the spasm and your range of motion of you back will be better.

Apply heat for about 30 minute at a time with a thirty minute rest to let your back cool down between heating times before reapplying the heat.

It is not a good idea to keep heat on continuously or put the heat on too high as this can burn the skin of your back.  Using low heat intermittently is best; don’t just lie on the heating pad for hours because more is not better in this situation.

Alternating Ice and Heat

Some doctors recommend alternating ice and heat after the first 48 hours.  You basically put ice on the affected area of your lumbar spine and leave it on for thirty minutes.  After putting back the ice, put on a heating pad or jade heating mat for another thirty minutes and then switch back again.

This gives you the best of both worlds in the management of both inflammation and back muscle spasm and your back will heal faster.

Using ice or heat for back pain are good home remedies for the relief of back pain.  They don’t cost much and can do a world of good in relieving your pain without having to see the doctor.