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Is Heat Or Ice Better For Neck Pain

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Acute Or Chronic Pain

Neck Pain – Heat or Ice? (which is best for pain relief?)

When your back or neck pain is acute and there is soft tissue swelling, ice or cold helps to lower the swelling. Thats usually the case for most musculoskeletal and orthopedic injuries including knee, ankle, neck, back or shoulders. Ice or cold is also helpful after spine surgery to help lower the swelling in the postoperative period. However, prolonged use of ice or cold should be avoided as it can affect tissue healing especially in compromised patients with risk of non-healing such as in immunocompromised, diabetics or smokers.

In injuries that are older than 6 weeks and are chronic, there is minimal soft tissue swelling. Inflammation and swelling are in the deep structures such as the neural tissues, discs and facets. Heat generally increases the blood flow carrying the reparative cells to the site of the inflammation. This is especially true when taking medications like steroids or other anti-inflammatories. Increased blood flow will increase the delivery of the medication to the site of inflammation. You can also try cold to alleviate your pain symptoms but keep in mind that although it will lessen the pain, it may decrease the blood flow and worsen the muscle spasms once the effect of the cold wears off. Therefore, if you decide to use cold, use it judiciously and avoid prolonged application. Alternating between the two modalities is also an option for some patients

Top Tips For Using Heat Therapy For Neck Pain

Liquid Heat TreatmentsLiquid heat treatments such as taking a hot bath, using a moist hot towel, or gel packs work faster than dry heat treatments.

Dry heat treatments include rice and lavender packs that are soothing, but they can draw moisture out of the skin and cause irritation. Liquid heat therapy can be absorbed much more quickly and applied at a higher temperature to work deep down to reach damaged tissues.

We feel neck pain when strained, tense muscles and torn tissues wont allow blood to flow through the damaged area properly. Heat therapy expands the blood vessels, helping to get the blood moving through your neck again.

While dulling the degree of pain you feel and encouraging uncomfortable, stiff tissues to stretch and regain flexibility, with blood circulating through the problem area again, essential oxygen, anti-inflammatories, and restorative substances can reach injured tissues and stiff muscles to heal and repair.

Neck wrapsNeck wraps and heated gel pads are an easy way to allow heat treatments to remain on your neck for the full length of time required at a constant temperature.

If you cant get hold of a neck wrap, you could substitute a neck pad with a hot bath, steamed towel, hot water bottle, or, if pushed, a hot shower. However, none of these can have the same impact as a wrap or pad due to the applications differing proximity plus the fast decline in temperature.

Articles On Knee Pain

You can do many things to help knee pain, whether its due to a recent injury or arthritis youve had for years.

Follow these 11 dos and donâts to help your knees feel their best.

Donât rest too much. Too much rest can weaken your muscles, which can worsen joint pain. Find an exercise program that is safe for your knees and stick with it. If youre not sure which motions are safe or how much you can do, talk with your doctor or a physical therapist.

Do exercise. Cardio exercises strengthen the muscles that support your knee and increase flexibility. Weight training and stretching do, too. For cardio, some good choices include walking, swimming, water aerobics, stationary cycling, and elliptical machines. Tai chi may also help ease stiffness and improve balance.

Donât risk a fall. A painful or unstable knee can make a fall more likely, which can cause more knee damage. Curb your risk of falling by making sure your home is well lit, using handrails on staircases, and using a sturdy ladder or foot stool if you need to reach something from a high shelf.

Do use RICE. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation is good for knee pain caused by a minor injury or an arthritis flare. Give your knee some rest, apply ice to reduce swelling, wear a compressive bandage, and keep your knee elevated.

Dont overlook your weight. If youre overweight, losing weight reduces the stress on your knee. You donât even need to get to your ideal weight. Smaller changes still make a difference.

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How do adults get meningitis?Common bacteria or viruses that can cause meningitis can spread through coughing, sneezing, kissing, or sharing eating utensils, a toothbrush or a cigarette. These steps can help prevent meningitis: Wash your hands. Careful hand-washing helps prevent the spread of germs.

Types Of Heat Therapy

Heat Or Ice For Neck Pain

Types of heat therapy include:

  • applying safe heating devices to the area. Many heat products are available for purchase online, including electrical heating pads, hot water bottles, hot compress, or heat wrap.
  • soaking the area in a hot bath, between 92 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 33 and 37.7 degrees Celsius
  • using heated paraffin wax treatment
  • medications such as rubs or patches containing capsicum, available for purchase online.

Heat packs can be dry or moist. Dry heat can be applied for up to 8 hours, while moist heat can be applied for 2 hours. Moist heat is believed to act more quickly.

Heat should normally be applied to the area for 20 minutes, up to three times a day, unless otherwise indicated.

Single-use wraps, dry wraps, and patches can sometimes be used continuously for up to 8 hours.

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More Remedies For Pinched Nerve

1. Take Pain and Inflammation Reducing Medication

Several over-the-counter medications like aspirin and ibuprofen are good for both pain relief and reducing inflammation. They can help heat or ice for pinched nerve treatment methods work more efficiently.

  • Make sure to following dosing instructions.
  • Speak with your doctor if you are concerned about effects and reactions with other medications you are taking.
  • Read label about possible side effects.

2. Consume More Calcium

If you lack in calcium, you increase your chances of suffering a pinched nerve. Calcium promotes nerve health and good overall well-being. Incorporate nutrient-rich foods like yogurt, cheese, milk, kale and spinach.

  • When shopping for groceries, look for calcium-fortified foods. Several brands offer enriched versions of their normal products.
  • You can increase your calcium intake by taking a supplement. They are easily found in retail locations like a pharmacy or grocery store. Follow daily dosing instructions, never exceeding recommended amounts.

3. Make Time for Low-Impact Exercise

Blood flow promotes oxygen circulation and helps speed your healing process. Low-impact exercise allows you to move your muscles with a lower chance of negatively affecting your pinched nerve. Swimming and walking are good examples of acceptable exercises. Combined with heat or ice for pinched nerve techniques, you can reduce discomfort. Like any exercise regime, discontinue any actions or movements that cause pain.

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How long will it take for a pinched nerve to heal?Pinched Nerve Pain is Usually Short-Lived In most cases, symptoms improve and nerve function resumes to normal within 6 to 12 weeks of conservative treatment. Conservative treatment options include physical therapy, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen.

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What Heat Does For A Pinched Nerve

When applied correctly, heat is very beneficial for a pinched nerve.

  • Heat is soothing and relaxing both for your muscles and your mind.
  • Heat promotes healing by bringing new blood flow to the area, which brings healing properties and helps flush toxins away.
  • You can by applying heat to the area.
  • Using heat can also increase the range of motion in the joint.

When To Contact A Medical Professional

Should You Be Using Ice or Heat for Neck & Back Pain? – CORE Chiropractic

Seek medical help right away if you have:

  • A fever and headache, and your neck is so stiff that you cannot touch your chin to your chest. This may be meningitis. Call 911 or the local emergency number or get to a hospital.
  • Symptoms of a heart attack, such as shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, vomiting, or arm or jaw pain.
  • Symptoms do not go away in 1 week with self-care
  • You have numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arm or hand
  • Your neck pain was caused by a fall, blow, or injury — if you cannot move your arm or hand, have someone call 911 or the local emergency number
  • You have swollen glands or a lump in your neck
  • Your pain does not go away with regular doses of over-the-counter pain medicine
  • You have difficulty swallowing or breathing along with the neck pain
  • The pain gets worse when you lie down or wakes you up at night
  • Your pain is so severe that you cannot get comfortable
  • You lose control over urination or bowel movements
  • You have trouble walking and balancing

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Using Ice Packs To Treat A Stiff Neck

Ice packs can also be an effective treatment method for neck pain. Interestingly, applying ice to an area can have some of the same positive impacts on pain, albeit through a different mechanism. Cold therapy works by:

  • reducing blood flow to the area
  • reducing inflammation
  • reducing nerve activity in the area

How To Soothe A Sore Neck

Neck pain essentials include icing and heat, gentle therapeutic exercise, and good posture.

Sore neck? It’s pretty common. And most men get neck pain for the same reasons they suffer low back pain. “In the vast majority of people, it’s routine muscle strain and sprain,” says Dr. Robert Shmerling, associate professor of medicine at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “The neck has to support that heavy bowling ball on top.”

The remedies for neck and back pain also have some things in common. First, ease the early intense pain with rest, ice, and heat then move on to gentle stretching and strengthening exercises. Later, avoid bad posture and other habits that could trigger another neck pain crisis.

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When You Should Not Ice Or Heat An Injury

Heat is well known for making swelling worse. Ice is well known for making muscle tension and muscle spasms worse, and more painful. Because of this, if you use the wrong method of treating an injury, you can do mild to moderate harm to the area.

Ice and heat are both controversial in contradicting environments and situations: Ice is pointless when you are shivering, and heat is pointless when you are sweating in the summer heat. Not only is it pointless, it can also be interpreted by the body as a threat, which can significantly increase the amount of pain experienced from the injury.

When Not To Use Heat Therapy

Heat Or Ice For Neck Pain

In some cases, heat therapy is not the best option. Muscle strain usually occurs when sensitive muscle tissue tears, so internal bleeding or inflammation is a real possibility with a neck injury. When swelling or pain accompanies a neck injury, ice treatments may prove helpful. Directly after the damage occurs, however, it is still important to seek medical advice first.

When there is a possibility, you could be at risk of internal bleeding or swelling. In this instance, heat treatments can make the problem worse, so avoid at all costs . At least, wait until an MD or Physical Therapist has examined you. Also, prolonged neck injuries or neck injuries that feel swollen, badly strained, or painful may involve internal bleeding. It is always best to check with a medical professional before using heat treatments at home.

If you have already put pain-relieving gel or cream on the problem area, do not apply heat treatment over the top. Pain relief gels like Voltarol or Biofreeze ease soreness by numbing the discomfort. You wont be able to feel how hot your heat treatment is until it is too late. If in doubt, always consult your doctor or physical therapist first before applying any form of heat or cold therapy.

Yet, as an experienced PT, I know how varied the effects can be due to how you use heat therapy.

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Can neck pain cause heart palpitations?Cervical instability created autonomic myopathy or autonomic neuropathy, that is nerve damage that blocks or interferes with the messages sent between the brain and the heart and blood vessels, can lead to a variety of serious symptoms including palpitations, racing or skipping beats, tremors, blurring of vision, Can cervical spine instability cause cardiovascular-like attacks, heart

Tips On Using Cold Therapy For Ra

  • Use a bag of frozen peas, wrap ice in a thin towel, or use commercially available cold gel packs for cold therapy.
  • Avoid applying ice or cold packs directly to the skin use a towel or cloth between the cold device and the skin.
  • To avoid frostbite, do not apply cold for more than 15 minutes at a time.
  • Allow your skin to return to normal temperature and color before using cold again.

If youre using one of these hot or cold methods and it doesnt bring relief, or it seems to make the rheumatoid arthritis symptoms worse, talk to your doctor.

Just so you know, Everyday Health may earn commissions from the shopping links included in this article.

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Ice Or Heat For My Stiff Neck

by Tom Anthoney | Aug 28, 2015 | Back Aches, Body aches and pains, Neck Aches, Physiotherapy, sports injuries, Stiffness |

When we get an injury we all want some relief, but we also want to make sure we arent doing any more damage to the area and to know that what we are doing is beneficial.

But what about when youve woken up and your neck feels locked? Every time you try to turn it you get a sharp pain or stiffness. What is best?

Which brings us to the age old question, should I apply Cold or Heat??

What does Ice do?

When cold is applied to an area, it restricts blood flow and causes constriction of blood vessels, hence causing the bleeding of an injury to be reduced, along with any inflammation. It can be a very effective pain reliever .

And heat?

Heat application causes dilation of blood vessels and increases the blood flow to a muscle, which can have a relaxing effect and aid in pain relief.

Both are useful and both can provide relief, however it is important to know at what stage to use them and the symptoms to look for that can help you choose which medium to use!

So if you have injured yourself

As a general rule, if an injury is showing signs of inflammation, ie. It is hot, red or swollen, then Ice is recommended as this will reduce the inflammatory process.

Other signs of inflammation can be

  • pain at night or when you settle for the day,
  • throbbing pain, or
  • pain that is a dull ache/throb deep in the area of injury.
For that sore back or neck
And my locked neck?

How To Use Ice Therapy

Ice or Heat for Neck and Back Pain Relief

Ice constricts blood vessels and limits the flow of blood to the injured area. This relieves the pressure within the tissue and at the same time slows down the nerve impulses that transmit pain, acting as a local anesthetic to numb the injured tissues.

Whether you use a frozen gel pack or a bag of frozen vegetables, never apply ice directly to the skin. Wrap the cold source in a light towel to prevent ice burn. Apply cold therapy for no more than 15-20 minutes at a time and wait at least an hour before re-applying.

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by Cianci Chiropractic Center Staff | Jun 23, 2021 | Sciatica |

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.

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How To Treat Joint Pain

Whether to use a hot or cold treatment to provide relief depends on the source of the pain.

Heat increases blood flow to an affected area, which promotes healing and relaxes muscle spasms. Cold restricts blood flow, reducing swelling and inflammation. It also numbs pain around the affected area.

Generally speaking, ice is better for inflammatory pain. You can tell if a joint is inflamed if its red, swollen, or warm to the touch. Relieve inflamed joints by applying a gel ice pack, cold pack, or even a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a T-shirt to the injured area.

For joint pain not caused by inflammation such as osteoarthritis opt for heat. The Arthritis Foundation recommends placing a moist heating pad wrapped in a layer of cloth on the affected joint or soaking it in a warm bath. Heat treatments also can be effective for rheumatoid arthritis when youre not having a flare-up.

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