Should You Use Ice or Heat For Your Back Injury?

Category: Spinal Cord Injury | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: May 9, 2017

Back Injury Ice vs. Heat

Ice and heat can help our bodies after an injury, but is one better than the other when it comes to spine injuries? Today, we take a closer look at the benefits of ice or heat after a back injury, and we explain why one may be better than the other when it comes to back injuries.

Ice Or Heat For Back Pain?

Ice and heat can play a pivotal role in reducing the extent of an injury and controlling symptoms, but before we explain which one may be better for your back problem, let’s take a closer look at why ice and heat are often advised.

  • Ice – Ice is helpful for calming damaged tissue and inflammation that happens as part of the natural healing process. Ice can help minimize inflammation and swelling, and it may also limit tissue damage and numb soreness in the area.
  • Heat – Heat can be helpful for stimulating healthy blood flow in the area. Heat can help draw oxygenated blood full of nutrients to the area, which can help expedite the healing process. Heat may also decrease localized stiffness and dull some of the pain in the area.

Best Treatment For Back Pain

So which method is best for treating back injuries? The answer is usually heat, but it also comes down to personal preference. The reason heat is generally better than cold therapy for a spine injury because many back injuries are from muscle strains or sprains. Heat is great for these types of injuries because as we mentioned above, heat can help bring healthy, oxygenated blood to the area which can aid with healing. Ice is typically better for superficial trauma, like if you were struck by a baseball or bump into a counter. Superficial trauma tends to swell in its earliest stages, so icing can help stop fluid buildup in the area. However, ice won’t be helpful for strains, sprains or muscle irritation. In fact, it may actually slow the natural healing process.

It’s also important to note that not all spine injuries will benefit from either treatment method. If you’re dealing with a pinched nerve, a herniated disc or a spinal tumor, these passive actions won’t do anything to ease your pain. Some minor ailments like pulled muscles or acute trauma to the area may benefit from heat or ice, but more significant problems will only linger until they are addressed by a specialist.

Back Pain Doctor in Minnesota

So if you pull a back muscle while running or notice that a spine muscle appears to be spasming, grab a heating pad or slip into a hot bath. But if pain is severe or it lingers longer than a day or two, have the problem looked at by a back specialist.

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