What’s Better: Ice or Heat for Lower Back Pain

What's Better: Ice or Heat for Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is a common condition. In fact, you are likely to experience it at some point in your life. While lower back pain can be a nuisance to your everyday life, conservative treatments are usually enough to treat it successfully. Two of these treatments are hot and cold therapy. Not only are both options incredibly convenient, they're affordable as well.

If you're living with lower back pain, you may be wondering which one is better. The answer is, "It depends on the timing of your back pain as well as its type." Keep reading to learn more.

Start with Cold Therapy for Acute Back Pain

If you've had your back pain for four weeks or less, using cold therapy initially is likely your best bet. By bringing the temperature down, you can constrict blood vessels and simultaneously minimize swelling and information. You'll be left with a numbing effect that hopefully offers relief.

Once you've noticed an improvement in your inflammation, transition to heat therapy. The heat can help with flexibility, muscle movement, and overall functioning. It will deliver nutrients to the injured tissues and allow you to feel better.

Use Low-Level, Continuous Heat for Chronic Back Pain

In the event your back pain has persisted for quite some time, heat therapy is a good option. Turn it on so that you can benefit from several hours of low-level heat. Just be sure to adhere to the directions on the package so you don't damage your skin. Also, visit a doctor so they can make additional recommendations for your chronic pain.

Opt for Ice to Prevent Sore Muscles

If you work out or play sports frequently, you may notice sore muscles, which eventually lead to back pain. The good news is you can prevent this situation by applying ice or cold therapy to your muscles immediately after physical activities. This way you can keep tissue damage, pain, and inflammation. After 24 hours, use hot therapy to stimulate the healing of tissues.

Remember that too much of anything is never a good thing. This holds true for both cold and hot therapy. Use these treatments for lower back pain in moderation. Your doctor may encourage you to pair them with other treatments such as medications, steroid injections, and physical therapy.

In the event conservative treatments deem to be ineffective, your doctor can design a surgical plan that will help you find the relief you deserve.


All information provided on this website is for information purposes only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice. If you are seeking this information in an emergency situation, please call 911 and seek emergency help.

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