Ice May Provide Instant Relief for Certain Back Problems

An ice pack kept in the freezer and ready for use in the event of an injury may be one of the best ways to relieve back pain.

An ice pack kept in the freezer and ready for use in the event of an injury may be one of the best additions to a family first aid kit.

Often people think heat should be applied following an injury but ice may the answer when it comes to sprains, strains, traumas and tears.

Although heat always feels good on the body, it can exacerbate an injured area by causing already inflamed muscles, ligaments, or tendons to expand and become more inflamed.

There are cases where heat is helpful, including overworked muscles and certain types of arthritis, but I can’t overemphasize the effectiveness and benefits of ice to patients. When it comes to sprains, strains, traumas and tears, ice is the answer.

In a majority of the back pain cases following therapy, we have a patient walk on a treadmill for 15 minutes with a large gel ice pack strapped to their back.

Typically, when the back is first injured, blood rushes to the affected area and may cause pain and swelling. Swelling is a necessary part of the healing process, adding that inflammation often increases pain to the injured area and may lengthen recovery time.

You should always consult a physician with the onset of a new back injury. Ice should be applied for the first 48 hours after an injury, unless a health care provider tells you otherwise.

While a hot shower or warm bath may feel soothing, you may actually do yourself more harm than good with heat. Heat increases blood flow, which may increase inflammation and pain leading to a slower recovery.

Ice must also be applied correctly to an affected area to prevent skin irritation and other problems. I suggest placing the ice or pack in a lukewarm towel or soft cloth. (Dip the towel in lukewarm water and wring it out before each use.) The ice, protected in the cloth, may then be applied to the affected area for no more than 15 minutes. Ice should not be applied directly to the skin.

The ice application may be repeated once every hour for no more than 15 minutes for the first 48 hours following an injury. The ice will help ease pain during application and will also help speed recovery and lessen pain due to inflammation. Patients should wait one full hour between ice applications.


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