Back Pain - Heat or Ice?

suziequeJune 17, 2006

Hi - The good news: I played my best round of golf ever today (woo-hoo!). The bad news: On the 2nd to the last hole my (already tender) back gave out; I couldn't play the last two at all.

It's very low back; I can hardly walk. Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but not much! I've done 600 mg. ibupropen twice already, with no apparent relief. Just took 2 Aleve.

Should I ice it or lay on a heating pad? (I hope you say ice, because it's very hot and humid here today!). I just don't know when to do which.

Thanks! (ouch).


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ice for the first 72 hours - in intervals. Heat after that

    Bookmark   June 18, 2006 at 8:37PM
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Thank you, Devorah!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 7:28AM
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My doctor has told me that ice will always make the pain worse. I only use the heat for little periods of time.It helps right then and when I get through with it here the pain comes again.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2006 at 5:25PM
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Sansan, that is very odd advice or at least contrary to mainstream medical advice. The point of using ice first is that it will reduce any swelling and it is the pressure from swelling that causes much of the pain. Using heat later is to sooth the inflammation.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2006 at 5:48PM
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I always used to use heat for things (except in that first 12 hours of an injury), but I've learned from my sports doc that you should always use ice.
But.....sometimes, heat just feels better! so I'd say use whichever makes you feel better. You could try ice first, and if that didn't help at all, go for the heat.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2006 at 7:58PM
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I have to agree with devorah. I have had to use the ice, then heat. Sometimes it helps to relax in a hot tub of water (scented of course:) But if the pain continues too long, have it checked out by a doctor, It doesn't take much to slip a disc.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2006 at 9:26PM
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Hi, I was told to try a product calle Biofreeze. It has a cooling and heating effect. It comes in a roll on applicator, too,, (so you don't get it on your hands!!)
Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2006 at 5:10PM
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From the physical therapists and sports medicine docs.
Ice is to prevent swelling and can temporarily numb the pain.
Heat is to sooth the muscles and relax them.
When having physical therapy, heat is used to loosen the muscles first, before any exercise is done and ice is offered after the session to relieve any pain.
In the case of over used muscles, they say to use moist heat for the pain.

Good luck

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 2:14PM
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A physical therapist just told me yesterday to use ice for swelling & inflamation ( like for joints) and heat for muscles.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2006 at 10:49AM
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Ice is most definitely the treatment of choice for an acute (sudden) injury as it reduces blood flow to the injured area. This helps to reduce swelling, inflammation, pain and muscle spasms. Ice should be used for 15-20 minutes about every 2 hours during the inflammatory phase of the injury. The inflammatory phase is usually the first 3 days following the injury. You should totally AVOID heat and massage to the injured area during this time because it will increases blood flow to the injured area and will likely result in increased inflammation, pain and swelling with probable prolonged recovery.

Heat is recommended and usually very beneficial AFTER the inflammatory phase of an injury. Heat can help reduce pain and muscle spasms as well as reduce muscle tightness and joint stiffness. The recommended use of heat is for 10Â30 minutes at a comfortable temperature applied to the injured area. Repeat 2-5 times daily and before exercise. Heat should not be used if there are residual inflammatory symptoms (such as pain at rest and/or achiness upon waking in the morning that eases with movement). If in doubt, don't use heat, use ice.

For all acute injuries, always remember, RICE. Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ice or Heat??

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 3:16PM
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When I had a broken arm, heat made it worse, ice almost stopped the pain. Try both.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 9:23PM
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I had a broken arm couple of years ago and heat made the pain worse. Ice really, really helped. I just bought one of the heating pads that you can put in the freezer or micro wave instead of using a frozen bag of corn. It explained that ice helps pain.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 11:52PM
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I agree, ice for swelling, heat for muscle relaxation. Feel better soon!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 10:11AM
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Here is a little different approach. Electromagnetic pulse will start the blood flow better and remove inflammation. I used a unit I made using the Dr Bob Beck protocol and it works like a charm relives most pain in minuets and no drug side effects.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 7:27PM
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Hubby's back pain from something he did is relieved with cold packs; my back pain (same exact spot from similar activity I do!) does not respond to ice packs.. the heating pad give me relief! So, guess for minor aches & pains one needs to find which works for them by 'trial & error'?! I find no topical creme or NSAID helps at all for me!

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 1:54PM
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I will tell you something that works better for my back pain, a body pillow. Someone told me to get a body pillow for the pain in my rotator cuff. I put it between my knees and put my arm over it which kept the pressure off the cuff. The bonus was it stopped 98% of my morning back pain. Now I have 2 BPs and don't have to drag it from side to side. It is very warm laying between those to pillows.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 3:59PM
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For neck pain, a big thick towel rolled up & placed under the neck (head itself on the regular pillow) really helps take pressure off the neck when sleeping & supports the neck. Works while sleeping on the back or on the side. Yes, for me a pillow under the knees elevates the knees when sleeping on the back, takes the pressure off the small part of the back & supports it.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 5:06PM
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I have always been told that you should only lay on a rolled towel for no longer than 15 or 20 minutes. I had a few years of dizzy spells, passed out one time and broke my humorous in 3 places. I woke up one night, was sick to my stomach and so dizzy I could not walk. That is when I realized it was the bean neck pillow. I threw it away and never had a serious dizzy spell since. I also have a friend with the disease that starts with an m, mineras or something like that. He passes out all of the time and he believes it is the position of his neck when he has problems. So be careful about laying on a towel or semi hard pillow.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 7:24PM
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Emma: thanks for the important info.! I guess if the roll was too hard or too big it could cause pressure on the neck nerves/vessels ! The Physicaal Therapist was the one who recommended it for me & it does seem to help; sleeping in the recliner though is the best for me! There are some rather $$ foam pillows I read that conform to the shape of the neck & head ... have you tried them? They would seem to cushion the neck & skull better
but hate to spend the $$ if they didn't work either!

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 10:13PM
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