Heat and Ice Treatment – For Back Pain

Heat and Ice treatment is one of the most effective ways of relieving back pain. Choosing between the two may be mind boggling at first, but there are no known significant differences over the effects that they give and the mechanics on how they relieve pain. But proper information on when to use them and which is more appropriate for a specific back pain may be necessary.

Heat therapy is applying heat to the body in the forms of hot water, a hot cloth, heating pads, ultrasound and deep heating rubs among many others. Ice is used in cold compression therapy where it is the leading component along with rest, compression and elevation. In cold, compressions are combined to reduce swelling and pain in sprains, pulled muscles and strains.

Heat and ice treatment offers short-term pain relief but, regular application improves circulation that generally leads to good health. Hot and cold treatment requires a 20 minute application to the injured part of the body as often as needed until swelling and pain diminishes. Ice should not be applied for more than 20 minutes because it will cause frostbite. Similarly, heat should be applied for not more than 20 minutes to avoid overheating the tissues. There is a need for a two to four-hour interval between heat or ice applications on the injured part so as to allow proper circulation at a more repeated pattern like when pain and spasms occur.

Heat and ice treatment shocks the body when they allow the red blood cells to respond to the sudden change in temperature that the affected part feels. The injured part is flooded with the white blood cells that fight against infection. But in doing so, the red blood cells that carry oxygen are blocked which causes the spasm that spreads through the other parts especially the leg. When heat is applied, red blood cells are signaled by the brain to cool it down by circulating more blood to the area.

In a similar fashion, red blood cells promote circulation of the blood in the affected area when ice is applied so as to warm it up. This heat and cold applications also relaxes or numbs the nerves that trigger the pain signals to the brain.

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