Is Heat Or Ice Better For Back Pain?

Heat and cold therapy are usually recommended to help relieve an aching pain that results from muscle or joint damage.

Cold and heat therapy is not as effective as other methods. And it can be tough to decide whether you should use heat or ice for your back pain.

But don’t worry—this post walks you through that decision-making process, helping you decide what is good for back pain—ice or heat.

I have already shared a post related to this topic   Coronavirus Back Pain: Is Back Pain a Symptom Of Covid 19? I hope you read this post.

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Heated back brace good for back pain

Generally speaking, heat therapy is your safest solution for sore, stiff or aching muscles, mainly in your neck or back.

Your muscles respond well to heat, especially when the discomfort stems from overexertion, trigger points, spasms, cramps, bad posture, or restless leg syndrome.

Using a heating pad is one of the best things you can do to ease your pain or stiffness stemming from arthritis.

I also wrote a article Covid Muscle Spasms

How does heat therapy work?

In general, using a heated back brace or soaking in a hot tub brings many therapeutic benefits. For many people, heat is relaxing, comforting, and reassuring.

Chronic pain goes hand-in-hand with anxiety, sensitization, tension, and hypervigilance. Applying warm heat to your stiff back muscles or relaxing in a sauna can also soothe an over-stressed nervous system.

More accurately speaking, heat helps your blood vessels to dilate, allowing blood to flow freely. As a result, it helps you relieve toxins and promotes your healing.

How to loosen lower back muscles using heat therapy?

  1. Applying heat to your painful area for 20 minutes an hour will help in many cases.
  2. For severe injuries, you need to apply the heating pad to the low-, mid-, or upper back for 30 minutes to two hours. It would help if you bought a reusable heating pad for your back pain that wraps around the body in such cases.
  3. Always place various layers of towels between your skin and the heat source to stop burns.
  4. You also use a heating pad to help with low-back pain during pregnancy not to apply heat to the belly.

When is heat therapy not working?

This seems obvious, but you should not apply heat to infected tissue. Heat therapy should be avoided when treating:

  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Dermatitis
  • Diabetes
  • Peripheral vascular disease

Ice Therapy for back pain

Ice therapy, known as cryotherapy, is usually meant for injuries. The cold of an ice pack soothes inflamed, red, hot, or swollen tissue.

While this is your body’s natural reaction to an injury and a part of the healing process, it is quite painful and lasts longer than it needs to.

Applying a cold gel pack to your injured back or another area of your body can dull pain and swelling.

You must read this article Chiropractor For Shoulder Pain | Should I Seek Chiropractic Or Massage For My Shoulder Pain?

How does an ice pack help?

The cold temperatures reduce blood flow to your muscles, which helps to reduce bruising, pain, and swelling.

Once you remove the ice pack, the muscles will heat, and blood vessels open, ushering in a wave of blood, helping to clear debris left by injury, and accelerating the healing process.

Cold therapy is the best option for fresh injuries like a sprained, pulled, or strained back muscle.

Suggested Read: Is Neck And Shoulder Pain A Sign of Covid-19

When is heat therapy not working?

Doing ice therapy for other back problems may do more harm than good.

It would help if you did notice for:

  • Muscle pains
  • Trigger points
  • Reducing body fat

Also, this is intuitive, but you should not apply ice if you’re shivering.


Is heat or ice better for neck pain?

People usually face the hot/cold problem: Which one should you use? Usually, they use ice for the first 24 to 48 hours after fresh injury to reduce swelling, followed by heat to relax your muscles and improve stiffness.

With cervical disc disease, neither heat nor cold will help relieve the swelling, so use what feels good.

Regardless of whether you choose cold/heat, keep it on for 20 minutes at a time and then leave it off for 40 minutes. Finally, wrap the ice or heat source in a towel — Never put it against the skin; it can burn your skin badly.


So as we’ve discussed, heat is your best option for treating your back pain or a sore neck, though exceptions do apply. But there are some other options you might try and use heating pads for your back pain relief.

Lastly, which one you should use for back muscle pain relief is up to the user’s preference.

You use the guidance of this article to make an informed choice. But, first, you should listen to your body. For example, if the idea of using a heating pad on the neck or low back makes you sweat, ice can be your better option for you—science aside.

Do let me know what other homemade tips you follow for back pain.

Share your tips in the comment below!

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