If you have an aching back, you’re one in nearly 80% of people living in industrialized countries that suffer from back pain at least once in a lifetime. In your quest for relief, you’re bound to get a wide variety of opinions from well-meaning people about whether to use ice or heat for back pain. The last thing you need when you’re bent over with back pain is confusion about how to feel better.
The reality is that ice and heat are useful therapies for relieving back pain-related symptoms, however, they rarely correct the underlying problem. The key to getting relief is using the right therapy for your condition and making a trip to your Fort Collins chiropractor for a back pain consultation.
For an acute injury, ice is likely a good choice for reducing the inflammation associated with back pain. It works by lowering the body’s temperature to constrict blood vessels. The result is that it reduces swelling, decreases inflammation, and it may numb the pain temporarily as ice is a natural analgesic (pain reliever).
Ice works fairly well in reducing inflammation that’s due to acute injuries. Ice is also helpful for use after physical activity or chiropractic treatments and in between treatments to keep inflammation and back pain at bay.
Heat therapy is a better choice for treating chronic issues. Heat helps relax and loosen soft tissues, makes them more flexible and increases blood flow. Heat allows your muscles to move more freely and it aids in the overall functioning of your back. Increased blood circulation aids in healing back pain by bringing healing nutrients to injured tissues that are causing you pain.
The best times to use heat therapy are before activities or before rehab to treat chronic back pain issues. Heat therapy also works well before chiropractic treatments to put your body in a relaxed state and allow it to better able to accept spinal manipulation.
Be cautious that while heat therapy may provide temporary relief between chiropractic treatments, it may increase inflammation overall.
When using ice or heat, be sure to use a protective barrier such as clothing or a towel between the ice or heat source and your body. Applying ice or heat directly to your skin causes the potential for burns or skin damage.
The most effective, cost-effective approach to treatment for back pain is to schedule an appointment with your Fort Collins chiropractor. Spinal manipulation therapy combined with maintaining a healthy lifestyle and getting regular exercise is a safe, effective, and non-invasive treatment option.
Spinal manipulation that’s performed by a licensed chiropractor brings your spine to move properly, can improve spine alignment, reduces pain and inflammation, and enables other bodily systems to work better so your body can heal itself faster. Your Fort Collins chiropractor is your best resource for advising you about whether ice or heat is the better choice to help relieve pain and get your body back on the journey to recovery.