Today on the Dispotech blog, we are looking into gel packs, their use (both cold and hot), and how they can help us handle acute pain by bringing us relief.
The topical application of ice or heat can relieve pain for most types of lower back pain ... but not all. Let’s find out more on this topic with the support of an article published on spine-health.com.
The benefits of heat and/or cold prove to be excellent allies both when used as a primary treatment and as an adjunct. We tend to forget that these types of remedies are effective, being dismissed as being too cheap and easy. Here are some problems that can arise in the lower back and for which a cold or hot gel pack can have a beneficial effect:
- common lower back pain, such as a herniated disc, spinal stenosis (narrowing of the bone canals in the spine causing nerve compression) or spondylolisthesis;
- direct injuries to the lower back due to falls, sprains, sporting accidents or collisions;
- extreme exertion leading to excessive stretching of muscle fibres (for example, from lifting weights);
- muscle soreness caused by exercise (such as when attempting a new exercise, not warming up before a workout or overdoing it with a specific exercise).
To treat these ailments, using intermittent heat and cold therapy is an excellent remedy. It only takes around 15–20 minutes, with a 2–hour break in between to relieve the skin and nerves.
3 tips for using heat and cold according to the type of pain
Here are some examples of behaviour to adopt when feeling pain and you have the possibility to combine hot and cold therapies.
- For acute back pain, use cold first and then heat.
When back pain rears its ugly head (and has a duration of less than 4 weeks), you can firstly try to help yourself by applying a cold gel pack. Lowering the body temperature will help to narrow the blood vessels, reduce swelling, decrease inflammation and cause a feeling of numbness.
Once you notice an improvement, apply a heat pack instead. Heat improves the flexibility of the soft tissue, the movement of the muscles and the general functioning of the back, as well as stimulating blood flow.
Alternate these two therapies for a few days – or at least until you notice improvements to your health and a decrease in pain.
- Try continuous low-level heat for chronic back pain.
If your back pain is chronic (meaning it has lasted for more than 4 weeks), try to treat the pain by applying heat (with heat packs) or devices that give off constant heat (such as a heating blanket wrapped around the lower back or a heat patch).
Heat and the treatments based on heat must be applied very carefully to avoid damaging the skin.
- Ice down your back immediately after exercising to reduce muscle soreness.
Muscle aches that spread to the back can also be caused by exercise involving intensive workouts, movements you've never tried before and excessive walking. The pain caused by such activities can be at its most acute throughout the subsequent three days. Cold can help reduce inflammation and pain. After 24 hours, you can also start with heat pack therapy to encourage tissue healing.
What do you think of this article? How do you treat your back pain? Get in touch with the Dispotech team and let us know!