Back pain is a universal problem; but typical complaints come from individuals between ages 30 to 60 who experience back pain from a muscle strain at the lower back or within the disc space itself. Whether mild or intense, the fact is that, it can affect your day to day activities. The good news is that there are remedies that can relieve the aches and pains. With an ice or heat for back pain, you don’t have to suffer much longer.
Common Causes of Back Pains
- Never-ending use of gadgets
A study showed that texting and back aches are somehow related. It suggests that increased texting on tablets and smartphones causes more aches and pains in the back, neck and shoulder.
- Unhealthy sleeping position
Don’t sleep on your tummy as it places pressure on your joints and muscles. Snoozing on your side or back keeps your spine elongated and neutral.
- Cigarette smoking
Cigarettes contain nicotine that limits the flow of blood to your disk and vertebrae so they break and snap more quickly as you age. This harmful chemical disrupts the body’s ability to use and absorb calcium, leading to osteoporosis-related bone and back problems.
- Emotional stress
Studies show that people who suffered back pain are more likely to be depressed. Those with major depression were four times as likely to develop a disabling low-back and neck pain.
- Fashion choices
Sky-high stilettos are nice to look; sandals and flip-flops are comfortable; however, with little or lack of arch support, continuous wear can lead to back, knee, and foot problems.
- Less physical activity
Being sedentary invites back pain; on the other hand, even less strenuous activities like walking, biking or swimming motivates blood to circulate in the muscles at the same time relieving pain and stiffness.
- Over exertion
Lower back muscle strain is due to over-exertions, as muscles and soft tissues around the lower spine are strained resulting to restricting proper circulation and sending pain messages to the brain.
Heat or Ice for Back Pain
Many back sufferers consider heat or cold for back pain an excellent treatment. There are evidences that heat will minimize lower back pain; but some sufferers also experienced relief with the cold. Here are suggestions to try heat or cold for low back pain.
Heat to relieve low back pain:
- The application of heat is only for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Moist heat from hot packs, baths, or showers is more effective than dry heat.
- You can also try using an all-day heat wrap, available in pharmacies. The heat for back pain from this option is excellent for those who are chronic sufferers.
- An electric heating pad is the handiest, but do not use it while sleeping. To prevent any accident, set an alarm clock to go off in 20 minutes. Set heating pads set on low or medium, never on high.
Ice to relieve low back pain:
- Both heat or cold for back pain are effective remedies in relieving pain, swelling, and inflammation from injuries and other conditions such as arthritis. A commercial cold pack is sold in health outlets and drugstores.
- An ice towel will do and is an eco-saver. Wet your towel with cold water, and squeeze until damp. Fold and place it inside a plastic bag, and freeze it for 15 minutes. Take frozen towel from the bag, and place it on the affected area.
- An ice pack is another remedy. Place about 1 lb or 0.45 kg of ice inside a plastic bag after adding water to barely cover the ice. Squeeze to eliminate air and seal it. Wrap the bag in a wet towel and apply it to the affected area.
Apply ice on the painful spot at least 3 times a day. A damp cloth must be placed between the skin and the cold pack; also press the cold pack firmly against all the curves of the affected area. Never leave ice for longer than 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Sleeping with the ice on your skin is bad.
Alternate Use of Heat and Cold
Switching the use of heat or cold for back pain has been found to be very effective. First use heat for 15 to 20 minutes, then after a few hours use ice for 10 to 15 minutes.
- The healing effect of heat
Heat for back pain is a remedy for chronic aches and pains and also for new and minor muscular pains. Heat relaxes the muscles, improves circulation and reduces muscle spasm is reduced. But heat therapy must be used with caution. Consult a professional. Remember that too much heat can harm skin and tissue.
- The healing effect of ice
Ice is part of the initial treatment for sprains and strains, and other injuries. It may be in the form of real ice or one of the commercial substitutes. This is important to cover the ice pack using with a lightweight cloth so that it does not directly touch the skin.
Combined with rest, compression and elevation make ice treatment very effective. If there is no improvement within 2 days, get a professional help.
Benefit of Using Heat or Cold for Back Pain
Both hot and cold for back pain as remedy are equally beneficial. A better understanding of both would greatly enhance their application.
- Heat application gives relief from back pain through several mechanisms:
- Heat therapy dilates the blood vessels of the muscles surrounding the lumbar spine. This process increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, helping to heal the damaged tissue;
- Heat stimulates the sensory receptors in the skin, which means that applying heat to the lower back will decrease transmissions of pain signals to the brain and partially relieve the discomfort; and
- Heat application makes easy the process of lengthening the soft tissues surrounding the spine that includes the adhesions, connective tissues and muscles.
As a result of applying heat, stiffness is minimized, including any injury as flexibility is maximized and there is a complete feeling of comfort. Flexibility is very important for a healthy back.
- Ice is inexpensive but it provides astoundingly benefits in treating pain and swelling:
- Ice application minimizes inflammation and swelling that happens after injury. Since most back pain involves some types inflammation; application of ice is the best way to address them;
- Ice deadens tissues that provide pain relief like a local anesthetic;
- Ice application reduces the speed of nerve impulses in the area, that stops pain-spasm reaction between the nerves; and
- Icing limits tissue damage.
Types of Heating Pad
Nowadays, heat pads can be easily found in a local drugstore or even online. You can choose the best heating pad for back pain from among the following:
- Microwaveable Heat Pads filled flannel fabrics with grains that need to be heated in the microwave to generate heat. By using essential scented oils, spices or even dried flower petals, it emits soothing therapeutic effect.
- Air Activated Heat Pad combines charcoal, iron powder and salt. When you open the pouch, the air reacts with the iron powder and heat energy is being released. After 30 minutes of application on the skin, the heat increases. There is no need to use heating devices which makes it truly convenient.
- Electric Heating Pad uses electricity to generate the heat and some are now digital. One advantage is that you can get evenly distributed heat from using this pad.
- Moist Heat Pads are widely used by physical therapists. Moisture produced by these heat pads transfer heat deeper into the body tissues as compared to dry heat. It provides heat for back pain that relieves soreness. Heat increasing blood circulation within the body. No water is needed since moisture comes from the air humidity.
Types of Ice Packs
Different types of ice packs are used to relieve lower back pain. All are effective and patients have the option to choose which works best for them depending on their budget, convenience and personal preference.
- Reusable ice pack are usually filled with gel and sold in drug stores and general merchandise stores. It can be kept in the freezer ready for use and re-frozen after each use. It is inexpensive and can be made at home. Homemade ice packs are easy to make. You can make a frozen towel; from a frozen sponge and a sock filled with rice. A Gel-type pack is relatively easy to make and use. A bag of frozen peas can be obtained quickly from the supply you have in your freezer.
- Disposable ice packs are used only once but it becomes cold immediately through a chemical reaction. They must be placed inside freezers when not needed. They are found in drug stores and general merchandise stores as well.
These are proof that ice or heat for back pain is an excellent remedy and with the many choices available, you can certainly choose what is best for you.