Should I Use Ice or Heat for Back Pain

Your back allows you to do so much. It stabilizes the spine, allows you to hold a good posture, carry groceries, play with your kids, dance the night away, or run a marathon. As part of your core, the stronger your back, the easier it is to perform activities.

So when you experience back pain, it can severely limit your quality of life. You may think that applying ice or heat therapy will make you feel better, but since both methods are so popular, how do you know which one is best for you?

When to Use Ice for Back Pain

Ice is a good home remedy if your pain stems from a recent injury or trauma. For example, if you fell, or were involved in a minor car accident, or bumped your back on a hard object. Applying cold therapy will help alleviate pain and reduce swelling.

If the injury resulted in an open wound, you should wrap the ice in a towel or cloth. Placing ice or a cold pack directly on open skin will result in freeze burns, which would increase your pain and extend healing time.

When to Use Heat for Back Pain

Many people who experience back pain feel discomfort due to muscle soreness. This could be caused by repetitive movements, carrying heavy loads, weight lifting, or starting a new exercise program.

Applying heat packs will help to relax your muscles by increasing blood flow to the sore areas of your back.

Other Treatment Options for Chronic Back Pain

Strengthen your core. Your core includes your abdominal muscles, as well as the sides of your torso, and the muscles in your back. Strengthening these muscles is beneficial for people who regularly experience back pain. There are several low-impact exercises that do not require gym equipment and can be done from the comfort of your home. 

Change your mattress. Sleeping on a mattress that does not provide adequate spine support can cause chronic back pain as well as strained muscles. The level of firmness that is best for you depends on your body weight, body type, preferred sleeping position, age, and any underlying health conditions. 

Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep leads to inflammation, which can cause pain. Sleep deprivation can be due to not getting enough hours of sleep at night, or waking up several times throughout the night. In addition, insomnia can cause migraines and weaken the immune system. 

Stretch. Stretching your back muscles can increase your range of motion and flexibility. Hold each stretch between 15 and 30 seconds and do them several times throughout the week. That being said, don’t force your body to do a stretch if it’s painful.

Take an Epsom salt bath. Epsom salt breaks down into magnesium and sulfate. These components are absorbed by the skin which allows them to reach your muscles. Soaking in Epsom salt for at least 20 minutes will alleviate soreness. In addition, these ingredients soften skin and induces sleep.

When to See a Doctor for Back Pain

If you’ve tried home remedies and you’re still experiencing back pain, a medical provider can help to determine the cause of the pain. It may just be soreness, however it could be something more serious, such as arthritis, a strained muscle or ligament, or a herniated disc.

Request an Appointment at The Orthopedic Clinic Today

At The Orthopedic Clinic, we want you to live your life in full motion. If you’re experiencing back pain, let us help you. We’ll tailor a treatment plan that’s best for your lifestyle and get you back to doing the things you love.

Call us at (386) 255-4596 to schedule an appointment.

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