Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi
As we’ve talked about on the blog in the past, heat is a common technique used to treat a variety of ailments. Joint pain, muscle strains and even spinal conditions can respond well to heat treatment, and one of the easiest ways to expose your spine to warmth is by sliding into the bathtub. A warm bath can do wonders for your spine, and while it shouldn’t be your only form of treatment for your spinal condition, we’re going to use today’s blog to explain how a nice, hot bath can help to keep back pain symptoms at bay.
Treating Back Pain With A Warm Bath
Heat therapy tends to help treat certain conditions because heat opens up blood vessels, which improves circulation and helps to bring healthy, oxygenated blood to a specific location. If lack of healthy blood is causing your issue, or improved circulation will help to resolve your issue, then heat therapy can do wonders for your spine.
Some spine conditions that may respond positively to heat therapy include:
- Muscle strains
- Muscle tension
- Muscle spasms
- Joint stiffness
- Inflammatory conditions
As you can see, heat therapy tends to be more focused on minor or mild soft tissue injuries. You’re not going to be able to treat a fracture or a herniated disc with heat therapy alone, although it may help to manage symptoms while other active techniques are being pursued.
If you’re going to take a warm bath to target some of your back aches, you’ll want to be deliberate in the process. For starters, you don’t need to soak in the tub for hours to get the most out of a bath. Oftentimes the benefits of a warm bath can be obtained with a 15-20 minute soak, so soak for a bit and then get out and consider pursuing some active techniques like stretching, physical therapy or exercise when your muscles are looser and better able to handle stress. Again, you don’t want heat therapy to be the only treatment you’re pursuing for your back pain. You’ll want to pair this passive technique with targeted active techniques for the biggest benefit.
When drawing a bath make sure that the bath water is at an appropriate temperature. If it is too hot, the water can harm your skin and cause more discomfort, so start it at a comfortable temperature and then add warm water if you want to turn up the heat a little. Also, make sure that you use handrails or similar assistive devices when exiting the tub, especially if you are dealing with a spinal issue that at all impacts your balance or stability. One missed step or shooting pain can send you tumbling, so exercise caution when entering and exiting a bath.
And finally, make sure that your spine is healthy enough for a bath. That may sound obvious, but if you have recently undergone a spinal surgery, your doctor may advise against bathing until your incision site has closed. If you expose your stitches to water or soak before enough healing has taken place, the incision may open back up or you may greatly increase your risk of infection. Be sure that you understand when you can bathe after a spinal procedure so that you don’t accidentally cause additional issues.
Harness heat to help control your spinal symptoms, and if you want additional assistance, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi and the team at The Midwest Spine & Brain Institute. For more information, or to set up an appointment with Dr. Sinicropi, give his office a call today at (651) 430-3800.