Use Cold First And Then Apply Heat For Acute Back Pain
When your back pain is acute and/or occurs due to a direct injury, use cold therapy first.2 Lowering the body temperature will help constrict the blood vessels, reduce swelling, decrease inflammation, and cause a numbing effect.1,3
Once the inflammation has subsided, use heat therapy. When you apply heat, it improves the flexibility of soft tissues, movement of muscles, and overall functioning of the back. The local warmth stimulates blood circulation in your lower back, which in turn brings healing nutrients to the injured tissues.
It is also advised to continue using heat therapy intermittently for several hours or days in order to improve tissue healing and prevent recurrence of pain.2
Autoimmune Diseases: How Mountain Ice Can Help Relieve Chronic Joint And Nerve Pain
Up to 23.5 million Americans suffer from some form of autoimmune disease, a grouping of over 80 different chronic diseases marked by the body’s immune system reacting improperly and attacking its own cells. These diseases can be debilitating and even life-threatening, and they require careful, regular management to handle flareups of inflammation and pain.
Many patients dealing with chronic pain from autoimmune diseases have chosen Mountain Ice to help combat their pain and inflammation. Read on for a look at some common autoimmune conditions and a look at how Mountain Ice Pain Relief Gel can help!
What Has Worked For You
As you can see, there are many approaches to alleviating pain from neuropathy. Is heat good for neuropathy? Are massages helpful? These are questions that you might ask if you are experiencing nerve pain. The best thing to do is to try different methods and to consult your doctor if you have any questions about a particular approach. When you find the method that works for you, you can manage your neuropathy better.
If you have any other methods of either using heat for neuropathy or some unique method unknown to many, please share in the comments below. Other readers can greatly benefit from your experiences.
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Heat Or Ice For Sciatica Management At Home
Whether you are suffering from a sudden and recent onset of sciatica as manifested by pain in the lower back and pain radiating down the back of your legs or have chronic sciatica, at-home management of your sciatica can help in reducing your pain and providing much-needed relief.
Conservative management of sciatica through heat and ice therapy is a common way of relieving your sciatica pain at home. Application of heat or cold for pain relief from sciatica is more effective once you understand how these therapies work to relieve your sciatica pain.
How Do I Prevent Sciatica
If you currently have a herniated disc or bone spur, consider taking measures to prevent sciatica pain. To do so, build your low back and abdominal muscles. These muscles support your spine and are crucial to healthy alignment. You can also practice good posture and avoid long periods of sitting or standing, as these activities place pressure on your lower back.
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Know When To Use Heat Or Ice For Your Pain
Injuries typically call for temperature therapy in their treatment regimens, but whether to use heat or ice is often a confusing question. Temperature therapy is low cost, simple, comforting, and essentially can be performed anywhere, making it an excellent complementary treatment to other medicines or alternative therapies. So, how does one make the determination as to use heat treatment versus cold treatment? In general, cold therapy should be used for acute injuries that result in swelling and inflammation.
When to Use Cold Therapy
Cold therapy is the simplest and most common treatment option, which can often be performed with items already in your freezer. Treatments include ice packs , frozen gel packs, ice baths, or commercially available coolant sprays. More intense and less common cold therapy options include whole-body cold therapy chambers, cryostretching, and cryokinetics. All of the aforementioned treatments work via a reduction of blood flow to the region being iced, or treated. This can aid in significantly reducing the swelling and inflammation that can contribute to pain, specifically around regions with tendons and joints. In addition, cold therapy can also reduce nerve activity for the short term which also aids in pain reduction. Cold therapy should not be used on stiff joints and muscles or if you have poor circulation.
When to Use Heat Therapy
As always, talk to your doctor or pain specialist to determine what treatment regimen is best for you.
If You Answered With Stiffness In The Leg
Although this is a rarer complaint, if stiffness in the leg was someones main sciatica symptom, I would opt for applying heat to the affected buttock.
This would encourage better mobility for the sciatic nerve around the hip and allow greater movement of the leg.
To use this technique, follow this method:
- Start laying on your front on a bed or mat . Never sit on a hot water bottle
- Take a hot water bottle
- Apply it immediately to your affected buttock
- Keep it there for 15 minutes, then remove
- Allow the skin to cool to a natural temperature, then repeat the process
- Always look out for any signs of heat burn on your skin and remove immediately if you see or feel anything.
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Can You Make A Pinched Nerve Worse
You can make a pinched nerve worse in several different ways. So, now that weve covered how to use heat and ice therapy to make a pinched nerve better, lets talk about things that can make a pinched nerve worse. Below are some examples of things to avoid when dealing with a pinched nerve.
- Lifting heavy things.
- Performing high-intensity or high-speed exercise.
- Playing contact sports.
- Sitting or laying too much .
- Avoiding the doctor if the pain persists.
How Does Ice Work
First, we need to understand how each of these treatment modalities work. Lets begin with ice.
Ice has long been thought of as natures natural pain killer. It has powerful effects on the human body when applied to the skin, some of which we have only recently begun to understand.
Ice has been used for many years as a form of pain relief, and there are accounts of ice being used to treat injuries in the earliest days of mankind.
Ice works through a couple of mechanisms:
- Ice, when applied to the skin, produces an effect called vasoconstriction in the blood vessels which basically means the small vessels narrow and shut down blood flow to that area. Thats one of the reasons ice is so useful for swelling, such as after an ankle sprain.
- Ice also has an effect on the nerves around the area, dampening their signals which means we feel naturally less pain with an injury.
- Ice also encourages a flushing out of the potentially harmful chemicals around an injury site and reduces inflammation.
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Tips To Combine Heat And Cold Therapy In Your Daily Routine
Here are a few tips to help you incorporate the use of heat and/or cold therapy in your everyday activities:
- Keep a heat patch near your beduse it first thing in the morning to warm up your muscles if you wake up with an achy or stiff back
- Apply a cold patch before bed if you have exercised or exerted your back
- Use heat therapy before sleeping and after waking up if you have chronic back pain
- Carry a couple of self-activating heat patches and ice packs in your bag or car to use while driving or at work
You are more likely to benefit from heat and cold therapy when you make these treatments a part of your daily routine.
When Either Heat Or Cold Will Do
- Muscle aches, spasms, and pains
For short-term pain relief of any of these conditions, apply a hot or cold compress using any of these items:
- An electric heating pad
- A gel pack that can be microwaved or frozen
- A bag of ice or frozen vegetables
- A washcloth or small towel soaked in hot or cold water
Whether you use heat or cold, be sure to wrap the pack in a thin towel to help protect your skin.
Apply to the painful area for 15-20 minutes several times each day.
Whether you use heat or cold, you may notice your skin looks a little pinker after applying the compress. Thatâs normal, but let your skin return to its normal color and temperature before applying fresh ice or heat.
- Skin thatâs purplish-red, dark red, or a spotty red and white color
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Or Just Use An Ice Cube
In a pinch, with no cups around, just use an ice cube directly held in a dishtowel almost as good! Less convenient for larger areas, but nearly as effective for most uses. Over the years Ive found that, 9 times out of 10 I need an ice cup, I havent actually got one ready in the freezer, and I end up using ice cubes at first.
When Is The Best Time To Apply Ice
In the case of Plantar Fasciitis, it is recommended that you ice twice a day. However, it is not recommended that you apply ice first thing in the morning. One of the hallmark symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis is morning heel pain pain that occurs when you first get out of bed in the morning. Your feet need a chance to warm up upon arising, so its generally best to apply ice later in the day.
Good times might include your lunch break and another session in the evening. While morning heel pain typically resolves after youve had a chance to walk around a bit, the pain frequently returns as the day progresses and the plantar fascia ligament bears the weight of your activity. You may experience a great deal of discomfort by days end, and this is a great time to utilize ice for its anti-inflammatory and numbing effects.
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Is Heat Or Cold Therapy Better For Sciatica Pain
Dr. Bhavik Sheth, PT, DPT, CSCS, SFMA
Dr. Bhavik Sheth, PT, DPT, CSCS, SFMA is a physical therapist and the co-founder of the Elite Movement Initiative, a physical therapy group. He earned his D…
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Sciatica is a unique type of nerve pain that begins in the lower back and extends through the lower extremities.
People with sciatica often experience sharp low back, hip, and leg pain as well as burning sensations, tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness. This level of discomfort is alarming and calls for the assistance of an ice pack or warm towel, but which is actually fit to alleviate your pain?
In this article, we will discuss whether heat therapy, cold therapy, or a combination of both is best for sciatica.
How Do You Put Ice On A Pinched Nerve
Many people learn as kids that an ice pack is great for reducing pain and swelling. But, if ice is left on the skin for too long, it can cause damage. So, here are some things you can do to safely use ice on your pinched nerve.
- Keep the ice pack on for no longer than 15 minutes at a time.
- Take an hour break between ice pack sessions.
- Place a cloth or towel between the ice pack and the skin.
- Try an ice massage applying ice directly to the skin of the affected area for 5 minutes at a time in circular, massaging motions.
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What You Should Know
Use an ice pack, a frozen towel, or, even a bag of frozen vegetables – peas and corn work great. Keep the ice on up to 20 minutes at a time, using a towel to avoid direct contact between the ice pack and your skin. Let the area get numb, wait and hour and then you can reapply the cold pack, if necessary. Ice should only be used up to three days following injury. After that, you might want to check-in with your doctor.
Ice application to an acute injury is generally safe. To avoid the risks, limit your usage to 20 minutes at a time and avoid using super cold products. Don’t let yourself fall prey to frostbite due to prolonged application to fingers, toes, ears, nose. And avoid nerve injury, particularly the ulnar nerve on the inside of your elbow and the peroneal nerve on the outside of your knee.
If You Answered With Pain In The Back
You might want to try alternating between heat and ice on the lower back if your main sciatica symptom is back pain.
If you applied ice alone to your lower back, you might get some effective pain relief, but I found that my clients complained of worsening stiffness when they treat their back with just ice. For this reason, I would suggest you try for the best of both worlds and get the pain relieving effects of ice AND the mobility improvements that heat bring.
The other advantage of trying both is that you will get the chance to feel which one works best for YOU. As everyone is different, its important to take note of how you feel after each treatment.
To use this method:
- Take a hot water bottle
- Apply it immediately to your lower back, where the ice was earlier
- Keep it there for 15 minutes, then remove
- Go back to the peas/ice and repeat the process as many times as you need
- Always look out for any signs of ice or heat burn on your skin and remove immediately if you see or feel anything.
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Types Of Pain: Nociceptive Vs Neuropathic
- Nociceptive pain comes from damaged tissues outside the nervous system, such as muscles and joints. People say the pain feels aching and throbbing.
- Neuropathic pain comes from the nerves that transmit pain signals from the body to the brain. People describe the pain as burning, stinging, or shooting. It may radiate from one area of the body to another. It may be accompanied by numbness and tingling.
Doctors usually try one type or the other , although they can be combined. They are taken daily in addition to conventional pain relievers.
Ice Massage For Sciatica
An ice massage is the application of ice directly on the affected area in a circular motion. Ice massages help relieve pain over a wider region. A hand-held ice unit can be made by freezing water in a paper cup and cutting the top half of the cup to expose the ice .
In the rear pelvic area, ice massage may be done directly on the skin for 3 to 6 minutes . An ice massage creates a cold feeling followed by a slight burning or tingling sensation, and finally, numbness occurs. Once numbness is felt, icing must be stopped to avoid frostbite. When the numbness wears off, the procedure can be repeated. This treatment can be done 2 or 3 times a day.
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Is Bed Rest Good For A Pinched Nerve
If your pain is severe, one or two days of bed rest is fine, but prolonged rest may worsen sciatica. Muscle stiffness and weakness often accompany sciatic pain, and immobility will only intensify these symptoms. Getting in some low-impact exercise as soon as you feel ready will loosen and strengthen the affected muscles and aid your recovery, says Dr. Bhavik Sheth, Physical Therapist.
Heat For Managing Pain
Before using heat to help with your pain, ask yourself the following questions:
- Has your injury healed or is it fresh?
- Are your muscles tight and tender?
- Is the pain located in your joints or muscles?
The answers to these questions are relevant because of how heat works to relieve certain types of pain.
Heat can be an effective form of pain relief in three main circumstances:
This makes heat an appropriate choice for musculoskeletal conditions, such as:
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Types Of Heat Therapy Application For Sciatica
There are two types moist heat and dry heat.
Moist heat: You can get moist heat from steamed towels, hot baths, and moist heating packs.
Dry heat: this may remove moisture from your body and dehydrate your skin. Dry heat can come from electric heating pads and saunas.
The choice for any of the two heat therapy types can differ from person to person. To ascertain the right type for yourself, you will need to experiment and pick the one that best suits you.
Debate About Ice Heat & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If you have this condition then you already know the mainwarning signs of carpal tunnel syndrome. These are pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in your hand or fingers. However, your little finger is fine.
Another main feature about carpal tunnel syndrome is in the beginning, symptoms come and go. But as it progresses, they will persist throughout most of the day or night.
To get relief, youve probably heard a lot about home remedies like ice or heat. Maybe you tried one. Actually, most people have triedboth by alternating between hot and cold water .
I think half of patients tell me they like heat, while the other half say they like cold.
In reality, neither are actual treatments. Ice just temporarily relieves pain, like a numbing agent. Medicines such as Advil and Tylenol do the same thing. However, none of these get rid of the actual source of the problem.
Alternatively, heat is well-known to attack the actual cause of carpal tunnel syndrome. That cause istendon inflammationdeep inside your wrist joint. It produces fluid buildup which in turn exerts pressure on the median nerve. This is when themost common carpal tunnel symptomsbegin to show up.
Therefore, using heat will not temporarily relieve pain like ice does. However, heat will helphealthe inflamed tissues with prolonged application.
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