Back Pain is a health condition that many people suffer and if neglected can worsen and lead to extreme pain and inability of the muscles to function. Most people prefer over-the-counter medications to relieve the pain but that is only temporary and tends to come back again. Orthopedic doctors therefore recommend the use of heat or ice compress to naturally relax the muscles.

Cold Pack or Hot Pack

Both the Hot and Cold Compresses treat the muscles differently and therefore it is necessary to understand what kind of back injury needs the treatment, followed by the selection of Hot/Cold therapy.

Hot Compresses provide warmth to the pain area and loosen up the back muscles while relieving tension. Heat improves circulation of blood to the area and facilitates flexibility. They are recommended for muscle aches resulting due to a lot of physical moving and heat works well for stiffened muscles and muscle spasms.

Heat therapy can be applied in two forms: Moist heat and Dry heat. The aim of this therapy is to provide warmth and not too hot temperature to the affected area. Moist heat includes hot baths or steamed towels and takes lesser time to heal. On the contrary, dry heat involves the use of Heating Packs or Saunas that are comparatively easy to apply than the moist ones.

When to avoid?

Heat therapy must not be used if the area is:

  • Swollen
  • An open wound

Also, heat therapy must be avoided by people who are suffering from vascular diseases, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, dermatitis and deep vein thrombosis. 

Cold Compresses also known as Cryotherapy, works by controlling the amount of blood flowing to the area which results in reduced swelling and relief in pain. Cold compresses can help relieve back pain if used every thirty minutes until the pain is relieved. If using at home, the dry ice packs are ideal to use as they are easily available.

Cold Therapy can be applied in different ways, by using Ice Massage, Coolant Sprays, Ice Packs and Ice Baths. Most commonly, the Ice-Cold Packs are used by people as they are easy to apply.

When to avoid?

It is not recommended for people with sensory disorders as well as people suffering from stiff muscles or joints as it would worsen the condition. The Cold Therapy must also be avoided if the user is detected of poor blood circulation.

Some back problems may require a combination of both – Heat and Cold Therapy. This includes applying Cold Compress initially followed by application of Hot Packs an hour later until the pain subsides. However, if the condition is severe, it is always recommended to visit an Orthopedic doctor before trying any of these therapies to achieve better and instantaneous results.