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Using both ice or heat for lower back pain can provide effective relief, but it’s important to understand how and when to properly use these therapies. Each has its own unique properties, and they work differently when alleviating pain. Keep reading to learn how to correctly use hot and cold therapy for your lower back.
Cold (Cryo) therapy is most effective 24 to 72 hours after sustaining a lower back injury. This will help to relieve pain by reducing swelling and minimizing inflammation along with numbing the lumbar area. If it’s been over 72 hours, continued cold therapy is still beneficial and simple to do.
For at home cold therapy, follow these general tips below:
Either dry or moist heat is used to loosen stiff or tight muscles and should only be applied to the lower back once initial swelling has decreased. This increases blood flow, bringing fresh oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, and it carries away waste products—all of which speed up healing and alleviate discomfort.
Dry heat is easier to apply than moist, and pulls moisture from the body - which can sometimes dry out the skin. The most common forms of dry heat application for lower back pain include:
Moist heat penetrates the lower back tissues more efficiently. The most common forms of moist heat application for the lower back include:
For at home heat therapy, follow these general tips:
Used individually, hot and cold therapies provide many benefits for those with lower back pain. Some people find that alternating the two is even more effective than using either in isolation. This practice is known as contrast therapy.
To enjoy the benefits of contrast therapy, you should aim to use one minute of cold therapy for every three minutes of heat application. Alternate between the two several times and always begin and end with ice. For more information, check out our Ultimate Resource guide on alternating hot and cold therapy.
Under certain circumstances, you may need to avoid using cold therapy, heat therapy or both for your lower back pain. If you suffer from any of the following, we always recommend that you talk with your doctor to determine best practices for you.
When looking for relief from your lower back pain, finding a good balance of using hot and cold therapy AND using them at the right time is key. Remember to take precaution when applying both cold and heat to your skin. Depending on the source and degree of pain your experiencing, treatment regimens may vary. Always discuss with your doctor to formulate a plan that works best for you, especially if you’ve been experiencing prolonged or chronic lower back pain.
Sources:SHOP LOWER BACK PAIN PRODUCTS
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