Cold and hot therapies: 4 tips for reducing pain

Hot Cold TherapiesHave you ever had an injury and were unsure whether you should use ice or heat to relieve the pain? Or a combination of the two? Both hot and cold therapies can be effective in reducing neck or back pain, but it’s important to know when to use them.

Ice before heat. When part of your body is injured, blood flow increases in the area, which can lead to painful swelling.  If you have back pain, cold therapy is meant to reduce the swelling after an injury and can also help reduce some of your pain. Neck or back pain can be treated using an ice pack, ice massage or ice immersion.

Don’t ice too long or too often. Try icing the area of neck or back pain once an hour for 10 – 15 minutes at a time. This pattern of icing can be used for 24 to 48 hours before it is time to switch to hot therapy.

Switch to heat. When suffering from back pain, hot therapy increases circulation after cold therapy. Increasing circulation can help remove toxins and increase the spread of nutrients and oxygen to reduce pain. Try using heat on the area of neck or back pain for 15 – 20 minutes at a time. Hot water bottles, heating pads and topical heating creams are some easy ways to apply heat to the injured area.

Protect your skin. Whether you are using an ice pack or a heat source to reduce neck and back pain, remember to shield your skin from extreme temperatures. Try wrapping an ice pack in a dry towel and placing something between your skin and a heating source so you don’t damage your skin.

In addition to hot and cold therapy, there are other non-surgical pain management options for neck or back pain. If you have had unsuccessful results from conservative treatments and have been told you might need surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute to find out if you’re a candidate for our minimally invasive spine procedures.


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