Should I Use Ice Or Heat For Lower Back Pain? | Everything You Need To Know

Should I Use Ice Or Heat For Lower Back Pain? | Everything You Need To Know - SUPMOGO Regenerative Wearable™

What happens when you are suffering from lower back pain?

One of your friends brings you an ice pack while the other runs to find a hot towel. Melted by their love and affection, you are now stuck looking at both of them with questioning eyes!

There's nothing wrong with getting confused about which remedy may be the best for your back pain. But you definitely have to choose sides!

Are you still stuck in the dilemma of "Should I use ice or heat for lower back pain?"

If yes, we're here with all the answers for you.

Let's discuss both in detail and find the ultimate solution for your aching back!

Here's what you'll learn.

  • What Is Lower Back Pain?
  • What Does Ice Do For Lower Back Pain?
  • What Does Heat Do For Lower Back Pain?
  • Which Is Better For Lower Back Pain – Ice Or Heat?
  • 6 Types Of Lower Back Pain And Their Recommended Therapy
  1. Acute Back Pain
  2. Chronic Back Pain
  3. Sore Muscles
  4. Tightened Lower Back Muscles/Muscle Cramps
  5. Stiff Back
  6. Sciatica
  • Situations When You Should Avoid Using Ice Or Heat For Lower Back Pain
  • 5 Best Therapies For Lower Back Pain
  1. Rest
  2. Physical Therapy
  3. Lower Back Pain Exercises
  4. Medications
  5. Supmogo Regenerative Wearable Belt

image of a nurse pointing at a skeletons spine where the hurt area is and to the right is a caption that says what is lower back pain?

What Is Lower Back Pain? 

Lower back pain, or LBP, is a global issue in all developed and underdeveloped countries. According to statistics, around 7.5% of the global population faces lower back pain.

It is most commonly treated by primary healthcare officers and is one of the major reasons why people visit them. [1] It can start from routine abnormalities such as prolonged desk jobs, sedentary behavior, or severe issues such as osteoarthritis. 

In LBP, your muscles, nerves, lower ribs, lower buttocks, and back bones undergo a particular pain. The intensity of pain can depend on your situation; it can be dull and achy, acute, and even severe chronic pain, like getting stabbed in the back. 

Lots of researchers, doctors, and medical experts have come up with medications and remedies to treat lower back pain at home. Ice or heat therapy can be some of the most effective at-home remedies for lower back pain. 

Before diving into whether heat is better for lower back pain or ice, let's have a look at both individually.

What Does Ice Do To Lower Back Pain?

How do you feel when you put an ice cube in your mouth?

Numbness on your tongue and loss of sensation around the mouth, right? The same thing ice does to your lower back pain; it numbs the sore tissues and lowers the pain sensation. 

According to research, cold therapy can reduce pain sensation, blood flow, inflammation, nerve impulses, muscle spasm, and metabolic demand. [2]

Get some ice and wrap it around something like an ice pack or towel to prevent direct exposure and prevent risks of ice burns. Place the ice bag on the affected area for 10 to 20 minutes and you can do this several times throughout the day.

However, ensure that the ice therapy is done within the first 24 to 72 hours of the injury for maximum therapeutic effects. 

What Does Heat Do To Lower Back Pain?

If you’re a woman then you may have noticed your mother using a form of heat to help you whenever you're feeling menstrual pain. And it works, doesn't it?

That's because the tightened blood vessels and contractions in the uterus cause menstrual cramps–and heat therapy eases the blood vessels and lets the blood travel with an increased and smooth flow. 

Heat therapy causes similar effects in all other cases; it dilates blood vessels and promotes blood circulation in the affected area. Therefore, heating your lower back would increase the blood circulation in the area helping to relieve tightness thus reducing pain. Also, use a water bag, cloth, towel, or some barrier to protect your skin from direct heat burns. Apply heat as needed throughout the day. 

Which Is Better For Lower Back Pain – Ice Or Heat?

If you're having second thoughts about whether you should use heat or ice for low back pain, let us wipe out your confusion. 

As health experts at DISC say when deciding what to choose between ice and heat for lower back pain, start by considering the pain's source and the reason behind all the discomfort.

Different types of health concerns need their appropriate treatments. It would be wrong to justify whether only heat or ice is the ultimate answer to all kinds of back pain. 

tittle says ice or heat? below on the left is an image of an ice bag and to the right is an image of a heating pad

6 Types of Lower Back Pain and Their Recommended Therapies

Following is a list of lower back pains with their suitable therapy type.

  1. Acute Back Pain

Acute pain is a sudden sharp pain like something striking you. The duration of acute pain is usually less than four weeks and can happen for several reasons.

In such situations of acute pain, cold therapy is a primary treatment that you should reach out for within a day or two of feeling acute pain. Ice will lower the sensation of sudden pain in your body, contract muscles, and prevent muscle swelling and tissue damage reducing inflammation. 

If the pain lasts for more than four weeks, it can lead to chronic pain, then you should opt for other ways.

  1. Chronic Back Pain

When it's been more than four weeks, and your pain is not calming down. Time to change the therapy direction!

Use medium heat therapy intervention that delivers a constant moderate warmth to the affected area. 

  1. Sore Muscles

Sore muscles or delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is the most common health condition in lower back issues. Keep in mind that excessive exercise is the leading cause of muscle soreness.

So, what is better for lower back pain caused by sore muscles, heat, or cold? Maybe a combination of both ice and heat therapy.

Recent research has shown that applying cold and heat therapy within one hour of muscle soreness injury due to exercise can reduce pain. [3]

Moreover, another research suggests that moist heat therapy is a better therapy to treat exercise-induced delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) than dry heat therapy. The heat is applied to the targeted place for 10 to 20 minutes to release the stress build-up on the muscles. [4]

  1. Tightened Lower Back Muscles/Muscle Cramps

Muscle cramps are caused by the tightening of muscles (muscle spasms). You might be wondering, is heat or ice better for lower back muscle pain/muscle cramps? The answer is simple.

Cold or ice therapy is better than heat for lower back muscle cramps and pain. Cold treatment is known for reducing spasticity and can be used as a therapeutic intervention. 

According to research, Muscle spasms can be reduced by heat. However, the best therapeutic intervention for lowering spasticity is cold. [5]

  1. Stiff Back

Your muscles or back get stiff when you don't move as much as you should. It's a tight feeling you get after sitting or resting for a long time.

For instance, when you wake up after 12 hours of sleep, you still remain in bed for the next half hour, trying to move and get yourself out of the bed. But you just can't! Because long durations of inactivity make your muscles tighten and stiff. 

The first thing that'll pop into your mind will be, should I use heat or ice for lower back pain now?  

Heat is the answer! Applying heat to your tightened muscles will help loosen them and regular blood circulation all over your body–making you feel active once again.  

  1. Sciatica:

Now, the last question, which is better? Ice or heat for lower back pain sciatica?

Sciatica pain is caused due to inflammation and the best way to treat its pain is with ice or cold therapy.

Situations When You Should Avoid Using Ice or Heat for Lower Back Pain

No matter how beneficial ice or heat is for low back pain, there are always some exceptional cases where both are not advised. If you are injured from the outside and facing open wounds and bleeds, it would be best to let them sit alone with some antibiotics. 

Any additional heat or ice exposure can directly affect the sensitive area and worsen the condition. According to UAMS Health, heat application on open wounds can draw more blood toward the injury and promote more bleeding. 

It would also be best to leave heat therapy out of the equation if you face chronic health conditions like spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, or diabetes. Heat can aggravate these conditions, so you might have to contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

5 Best Therapies for Lower Back Pain

  1. Rest 

Extended office hours can often cause discomfort in the lower back and initiate lower back pain. A case study in 2019 demonstrates that call center employees who sat for an extended office period are significantly associated with sitting behaviors and chronic lower back pain. [6]

When you feel you can't move your back and cannot stand properly, take a break and lie down for some time. Rest for some time–but not for too long as it can also worsen your situation.

chiropractor woman stretching and adjusting another woman, to the right the title text reads best therapies

  1. Physical Therapy 

When the muscles feel tightened and stress builds up, it's time for some physical therapy! It can be of any type, such as essential exercise, stretching, and proper therapy programs with the help of physiotherapists. 

According to research, the recommended primary physical treatment for lower back pain are manual therapy, exercise, and superficial heat. [7]

  1. Lower Back Pain Exercises 

Physical activity or exercise doesn't mean every movement you make will benefit your lower back pain. Don't get all enthusiastic suddenly and start performing crunches; they can worsen your back pain.

However, you can opt for some particular exercises to reduce lower back pain. Here's a list of what you can do:

  1. Medication 

Physical therapies and some rest solve lower back pain issues; however, if not, medication is another option. There are some over-the-counter medications available that treat lower back pain. You can consult with your local medical practitioner to prescribe you an appropriate medicine according to your pain type. 

  1. SUPMOGO - The Ultimate Solution for Lower Back Pain

SUPMOGO Regenerative Wearable Belts work best to relieve lower back pain and strengthen the core.

It provides a radiation-proof, chemical-free, Nano-scale silver ion fabric that does wonders for your back.

The best part is that it features water-activation EMS technology that delivers all the stimulation and relief as soon as you put on the belt. The Supmogo belt is an anti-static, anti-odor, anti-bacterial, environmental-friendly, and non-toxic belt.

It is an easy-to-use belt you can wear at home, office, or anywhere you like. It is all-natural and engineered by doctors to help soothe your stiff back, relax sore muscles, and lower down pains of acute and chronic back pains.

Lower back pains can be burdensome, especially when you have a long list of to-dos. Sometimes, the only thing you need is rest. Fortunately, the SUPMOGO Belt for back pain can help you get that without compromising your workload.

Head over to SUPMOGO and welcome ease into your life!

Wrapping Up!

Lower back pain is a problem that many of us will face in our lifetime. Luckily, there are many methods you can do to help alleviate the strain. Whether you should ice or heat lower back pain varies depending on your situation as they both have their own benefits and purpose. Take into consideration what is causing your back pain symptoms and then you can act accordingly! 

 


[1] Koes, B. W., Van Tulder, M., & Thomas, S. (2006). Diagnosis and treatment of low back pain. Bmj, 332(7555), 1430-1434.

[2] Malanga, G. A., Yan, N., & Stark, J. (2015). Mechanisms and efficacy of heat and cold therapies for musculoskeletal injury. Postgraduate medicine, 127(1), 57-65.

[3] Wang, Y., Li, S., Zhang, Y., Chen, Y., Yan, F., Han, L., & Ma, Y. (2021). Heat and cold therapy reduce pain in patients with delayed onset muscle soreness: A systematic review and meta-analysis of 32 randomized controlled trials. Physical Therapy in Sport, 48, 177-187.

[4] Petrofsky, J., Berk, L., Bains, G., Khowailed, I. A., Hui, T., Granado, M., ... & Lee, H. (2013). Moist heat or dry heat for delayed onset muscle soreness. Journal of clinical medicine research, 5(6), 416.

[5] Preisinger, E., & Quittan, M. (1994). Thermo-and hydrotherapy. Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift (1946), 144(20-21), 520-526.

[6] Bontrup, C., Taylor, W. R., Fliesser, M., Visscher, R., Green, T., Wippert, P. M., & Zemp, R. (2019). Low back pain and its relationship with sitting behaviour among sedentary office workers. Applied ergonomics, 81, 102894.

[7] Shipton, E. A. (2018). Physical therapy approaches in the treatment of low back pain. Pain and therapy, 7(2), 127-137.


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