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Heat or Ice for Back Pain?

Category: Back Pain & Heat Therapy
Posted: 2007-09-04 22:17

I enjoy finding research that will help you enjoy a better quality of life, beginning from the OutsideIN! The following is an excerpt from Healthwise Medical Reference.

Heat to Relieve Low Back Pain

You can apply heat to your sore back 72 hours after an injury occurs. Applying heat too soon after injury can make the swelling and inflammation worse.

* Apply heat for 20-minute periods. Moist heat (hot packs, baths, showers) works better than dry heat.

* Try an all-day heat wrap (such as Insta'Heat ), available in pharmacies. Research by the manufacturers of this new product suggests that during the first 2 days of heat treatment, 8 hours of heat wrap for acute low back pain is more effective than acetaminophen or ibuprofen at reducing pain and stiffness and increasing flexibility.

* If you are using an electric heating pad, avoid falling asleep while the pad is on. If you think you might fall asleep, set an alarm clock to go off in 20 minutes. Use heating pads set on low or medium, never on high.

After 72 hours of ice treatment, you may find that heat best relieves your pain. Or you may prefer to use ice only, or switch between heat and ice packs.


Author Shannon Erstad, MBA/MPH
Author Lila Havens
Editor Kathleen M. Ariss, MS
Editor Katy E. Magee, MA
Associate Editor Michele Cronen
Associate Editor Tracy Landauer
Primary Medical Reviewer William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kathie Hummel-Berry, PT, PhD - Physical Therapy
Specialist Medical Reviewer Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
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