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Should You Use Heat Or Ice For Neck Pain

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Neck Pain: Should I Use Ice Or Heat For Relief

Heat Or Ice For Back/Neck Pain? | Chiropractor Mechanicsville & Richmond VA

Almost everyone will experience a bout of neck pain at some point in life. Whether it be from a fender bender, sports injury, or simply wear and tear, neck pain can be stubborn and difficult to relieve. Weve all heard that both ice and heat can help, but which one should you try?

  • Ice: Ice is typically recommended in the acute stage of an injury. This usually means that ice is your best bet for the first 24 to 48 hours following an injury to reduce the pain from the bodys natural inflammatory process. New injuries tend to be hot, swollen and inflamed, and icing can help to calm those tissues down a bit.
  • Heat: Heat is good for taking the edge off of chronic muscle aches and stiffness. For example, if your neck is aching after a particularly stressful day at work, then applying heat can help bring some ease and relief.

Either way you look at it, ice and heat can be good ways to provide some temporary relief. However, if there is an underlying problem with spinal alignment, then no amount of ice or heat will provide a lasting solution.

Using Ice For Neck Pain Relief

Ice therapy should be used in most cases where there is an acute injury such as Contusion: which is a bruise without a break in the skin usually caused by a hard blow to a muscle. Strain: which is a tear of a muscle due to overloading forces which can be caused by the sudden contraction when sneezing. Sprain: which is an injury to the ligament of a joint which is forced beyond its normal range of motion such as in a whiplash type neck injury. Using ice for neck pain relief is a natural and effective means to reduce inflammation and speed healing.

To use ice therapy on the neck, an ice bag or a gel pack is available in most drug stores. You can even use a bag of frozen vegetables! Wrap in a towel and apply to the area for 15-20 minutes. If you do not feel comfortable with this method, our neck roll pillow and headache pillow provides a comfortable and easy to use solution as the ice pack fits inside the pillow and you can place it behind your neck, recline and relax.

Another method of applying ice therapy to the neck is an ice massage. Freeze water in a foam or paper cup and tear off the top and rub the ice directly on the neck. Do not hold the ice in any one spot for more than 3 minutes. An ice massager is available to make this procedure easier and it can be kept frozen out of a freezer for 12 hours.

How Do I Relieve Lower Back Pain From Sciatica

Most people know what sciatica means low back pain that radiates down to the left or right buttocks of the leg and sometimes all the way to the foot. In some cases , the pain may be overwhelming, and while it may be hard to believe, sciatica often disappears within 3 months with conservative treatment. That conservative treatment referred to here is a non-invasive therapy that can be done in the comfort of your home.

The five at-home sciatica therapies below are good options for people who have recently started to experience sciatica nerve pain or whose pain is not severe, but I urge you to get your doctors approval before you try any of these at-home therapies. If you have had sciatica for a few weeks or weak back and leg pain, you should see your doctor.

  • Grab the Ice Pack and Heating Pad.
  • Alternating heat and ice therapy can provide immediate relief for sciatic nerve pain. Ice can help reduce inflammation while heat stimulates blood flow to a painful area . Heat and ice can also help to ease painful muscle spasms that often accompany sciatica. Apply the ice pack to the painful area for 15 minutes once every hour, then heat for 15 minutes every 2 or 3 hours. Remember to always use a barrier to protect your skin when using heat or ice, and never sleep when using heat or ice therapy.

  • Exercise.
  • Stretching.
  • Recommended Reading: How To Heal Knee Pain

    How You Should Apply Ice

    When applying ice to an injury, you want to avoid causing damage to your skin.

    First things first, never apply ice directly to your skin as this can cause redness and even frostbite if you do it for too long.

    The best way to apply ice is to grab a bag of frozen peas or ice pack and wrap it in a light towel. Then apply this to the site of the injury.

    You should only leave it on your skin for about 15 minutes, every two to three hours, during the first day or two of your injury.

    The cold will numb the pain and constrict blood vessels to bring down the swelling in the area.

    Warnings When Applying Ice To The Skin

    When To Use Ice or Heat for Muscle Pain

    Along with the importanceof not applying ice to your skin for longer than is considered safe so as toprevent damage, there are some special precautions you should follow.

    • Avoid using ice therapy if you have a heart condition unless your doctor gives you the go-ahead.
    • If youve applied ice packs to your injury but it hasnt alleviated the pain and swelling within two days, make an appointment with your doctor.
    • Dont use ice to treat stiffness, such as a stiff neck, as that can actually make it worse. This is because ice constricts the blood vessels, and thats the last thing you want to do if youre suffering from stiffness. You want to increase neck flexibility by boosting blood circulation, which is where heat treatments can prove beneficial.

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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 Treat A Sprain Strain And Stiffness

    Knowing exactly when to use heat or ice can shorten recovery time and help with chronic aches, pains, and stiffness. Treating an injury can be tricky and not all sports injuries or conditions will require strictly ice or heat therapy. In some cases, both ice therapy and heat therapy can play a crucial role in the rehabilitation process. Generally speaking, ice therapy is more appropriate for new injuries, like sprains and strains, whereas heat therapy is typically better for treating chronic conditions.

    The RICE method is useful immediately following a sprain or strain and can also help with swelling or sharp pain following rigorous activity or exercise. Heat is often best for tight muscles, sore muscles, as well as the stiffness and pain associated with arthritis. Heat can also be used following an acute injury to increase blood flow once the swelling has subsided. Remember, though, that applying heat too soon following an acute injury can increase swelling. After sustaining a sudden injury, ice therapy should be used for the first 24 to 72 hours and, after that, individuals can transition to heat therapy in order to increase blood flow to the area.

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    So What Is The Story With Necks

    The information we gave explaining what happens to the back when it is iced holds true with necks as well. However, the argument against icing the neck is not as strong as it is with the back, the word never does not apply here.

    Just like back pain, the majority of neck pain is not considered inflammatory or injurious in nature. This is the criterion for icing an injury. Just like backs, the neck is easily irritated with cold. Have you ever been hit in the back of the neck with a snow ball? The cold hurts worse than the snow ball impact!

    The most common problem people face with their neck is the crick in the neck, which is enough to make you slightly hostile. This is usually brought on by chilly air hitting the neck at night, and not by the way you slept on your pillow.

    Even if we break down all of the specifics, it is better to learn by experience. Take a small piece of ice from the freezer and place it on your neck for a few seconds. You will see quickly that your neck does not like it at all.

    Unfortunately, no matter what you do, the neck is more fragile than the back. Because the brain knowns this, it pays more attention to the back than it does the neck, and protects it a lot more. Necks are susceptible to being injured a lot more easily, especially with a condition known as whiplash which is way more common than straining muscles in your lower back.

    Use Cold First And Then Apply Heat For Acute Back Pain

    Should I use ICE or HEAT for my 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

    See Ice Packs for Back Pain Relief

    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

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    How To Use Ice For Neck Pain Relief

    The new wraps allow easy application and storage. They can used sitting, standing or lying down, making them great for home use and very effective to apply to the neck, shoulders, and upper back. For an injury to the neck that has pain and inflammation, a good method is to use ice therapy 10 minutes every hour during the first 24 to 48 hours after injury, or 15 minutes each 2 to 4 hours.

    How Will Heat Facilitate Neck Pain

    You may use the following procedure to reduce neck pain using heat:

    Apply heat or ice to the painful area.

    • Use ice for the primary forty-eight to seventy-two hours, and then use heat.
    • You may use hot showers, hot compresses, or a hot pad.
    • Take care not to sleep off with a hot pad or ice pack to avoid skin injuries.
    • Keep moving. But make sure to avoid jerking or painful activities. That helps calm your symptoms and cut back inflammation.
    • Do slow range-of-motion exercises, up and down, aspect to aspect, and from ear to ear. That helps to stretch the neck muscles carefully.
    • Have a partner gently massage the sore or painful areas.
    • Try sleeping on a firm pad while not using a pillow. You may use a unique neck pillow.

    If the pain becomes a hurdle in your daily activities, consult your physician.

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    Should You Use Heat Or Ice For Neck Pain

    Well, lets see. Applying ice will work as a medicine to cut back swelling and pain. Initially, its better to use ice or cold packs for neck pain because they will temporarily shut tiny blood vessels and stop swelling from turning into worse . Heat and ice may provide relief from neck pain by applying regularly. These applications should be used for several hours. On average, the application must be for about forty-eight to seventy-eight hours. Ice or heat may be applied on an alternate basis. Applying continuous heat will cause swelling.

      How Long Does Sciatica Last

      Should I Use Ice or Heat for My Lower Back Pain?

      With proper treatment, most sciatica cases resolve within 4 to 8 weeks. However, some symptoms, such as tingling, may take slightly longer to subside. If your sciatica pain lasts longer than 8 weeks, it is considered chronicit may require lifestyle changes or the attention of a specialist to appropriately manage recurring episodes.

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      Ice Your Back Immediately After Exercise To Reduce Muscle Soreness

      Muscle soreness and back pain can occur from extensive workouts, trying a new type of work out, or even from excessive walking. Soreness from these activities may start on the first day but typically continues to peak until the third day.4 This phenomenon is called delayed onset muscle soreness and can cause significant inflammation and pain in your back.

      When you have back pain from exercise or exertion, use cold therapy immediately after the activity to reduce tissue damage, inflammation, and pain. After a 24-hour period, use heat therapy to encourage tissue healing.4

      Why Ice And Heat Are Helpful Remedies

      In general, ice and heat are common at-home remedies for many musculoskeletal injuries because they both work to relieve your pain. Applying ice or a cold compress to sore muscles will temporarily restrict blood flow by shrinking the blood vessels in the area. This helps to reduce swelling and inflammation in the area. The cold sensation of applying ice is also a natural, if temporary, pain reliever. Applying heat to sore muscles does the opposite of ice in that it actually encourages healthy blood flow to the area. It is best to alternate ice and heat or to apply heat only after addressing swelling and inflammation first. The warm sensation of applying heat is soothing for sore, aching muscles and also helps your body to naturally relax.

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      Is It Okay To Put Heat On A Pinched Nerve

      Overall, its okay to put heat on a pinched nerve. However, there are times when ice is best, and other times when heat is most beneficial.

      The general rule of thumb for a pinched nerve is to use heat only after youve managed to get the pain to subside a little bit. When the pain first flares up, use ice or cold packs before you use heat. And dont apply heat to the area directly after applying ice. Youll want to wait 30 minutes to an hour at least.

      For the best results, keep the heat on the affected area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Take a minimum 30-minute break between sessions. If you find that its helping, you can apply moderate heat to an area for up to an hour or more. Extended heat therapy is most beneficial for more severe pain from a pinched nerve. Its almost like spending time in a hot tub you can do it safely if its not too hot.

      Heat Or Ice For An Aching Back And Neck

      Ice or Heat for Neck and Back Pain Relief

      Back and neck pain are among our most common afflictions. According to most estimates, as many as 70-80% of adults will suffer back or neck pain that interferes with their daily activities at some point in their lives and 10-20% will report having back or neck pain at any given time.

      Most simple back and neck pain will resolve with self-care over a week or two, says Interventional Pain Management Specialist with Atlantic Spine Center, but while it is usually clear that rest and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication are likely to be helpful, many people are uncertain whether the application of ice or heat is called for. The fact is that both can be used to good effect but only if you know when and how to use them.

      Ice and heat complement each other and work together to relieve pain and promote healing. The general rule of thumb is to use ice immediately after an injury in the first 24 to 48 hours to reduce swelling and inflammation and cause a numbing effect. After the initial swelling and inflammation have subsided, switching to heat stimulates blood flow to the area and brings healing nutrients to the affected area. Heat improves the flexibility of soft tissues and muscles, and continued application for several days can aid healing and prevent pain from recurring.

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      Preventing Pain And Injury

      Posture. Using correct posture and keeping your spine in alignment are the most important things you can do for your neck and back . The lower back bears most of your weight, so proper alignment of this section can prevent injury to your vertebrae, discs, and other portions of the spine. If you have back or neck pain, you may need to make adjustments to your daily standing, sitting, and sleeping habits and learn proper ways to lift and bend. Your workspace may need to be rearranged to keep your spine from slouching. Because extra pounds can make back pain worse, you should maintain a weight that is appropriate for your height and body frame.

      Exercise. Regular exercise is important to prevent back pain and injury. A program of strengthening, stretching and aerobic exercises will improve your overall fitness level. Research has shown that people who are physically fit are more resistant to back injuries and pain, and recover quicker when they do have injuries, than those who are less physically fit .

      Is Ice Or Heat Better For Treating Whiplash

      Whiplash is an injury that can cause significant pain and discomfort in your head, neck, and back. If youve been in a car accident, especially if you were rear-ended, then your doctor will very likely want to assess you for whiplash because it is such a common injury. While whiplash is common, it is also a complex injury because symptoms dont always show up right away which makes it even more important to start treating whiplash as soon as it is diagnosed. Any injury that affects your head and spine should be taken very seriously and treated with care. Thats why you want to make sure you know what options for treating whiplash are best for you!

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