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Hot vs. Cold: What Is The Best Treatment for a Back Injury?

Many of us have been subjected to a back injury at some point, and many can testify as to how painful it can be. It’s not unusual for us to try a number of different methods to try and get rid of the pain. Two of the most popular methods of alleviating pain is the applying of ice or heat. But there can be some confusion as to what kind of treatment should be used for certain injuries.

There are those who say neither treatment actually works, but for the most part, many people have spoken about how better they feel after a hot bath or applying a cold compress to their injury. To get the benefit from either treatment, you should first understand what each treatment is used for.

Ice Is Commonly Used for Injuries

Receiving an injury when exercising is more commonplace than you think, and the swelling of muscles following an injury can be very painful afterwards. While ice doesn’t provide a miracle cure, it does help lower the inflammation of damaged tissue. It is an ideal treatment for those who would rather avoid using medicine for the pain.

There are a number of ways in which ice is applied to an injury, with most having the same overall effect. Some people may opt to use an ice pack, while others may just head to the freezer for a bag of frozen peas.

When using ice for pain relief, you should never apply it for longer than 20 minutes. It’s also important that you do not use ice for injuries if you have circulation problems, as this can cause you more problems moving forward. It is also worth noting that applying too much ice can cause tissue damage, so while it can be tempting to apply more ice in order to ease the pain, it could actually have the opposite effect.

Heat Is Commonly Used for Muscles and Stress

Heat is seen as the main treatment for those with a bad back, as it helps focus on certain trigger points. Many who suffer from an injured back will swear that a hot bath is the answer, and in most cases this can certainly be true. As well as calming the nervous system, heat will also help become calmer overall, as stress can do a lot to add to the pain being experienced.

People apply heat to injuries via a number of different ways. There is of course the aforementioned bath that helps relax those suffering from a bad back. But those with an injury can also apply heat via a hot water bottle or heating pads. It is vital that you take care when applying any kind of heat treatment. For example, try to wrap your heat sources with a towel so you don’t incur any further injuries.

What If I Use the Wrong Treatment?

While not life-threatening, there can be some ramifications if you use the wrong treatment for a back injury. For example, if you were to use heat on a muscle that’s inflamed, you could find that the inflammation is made worse. Similarly, ice can make tensed up muscles feel stiffer than they need to be.

Of course not every injury is black-and-white, and there can be different circumstances as to why a certain treatment needs to be used. If you are in any doubt then it is always advisable to seek medical advice in the first instance.