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Heat vs. Ice for Back Pain

Back pain is a condition almost everyone suffers from at some point in his or her lifetime. To relieve the condition, over the counter medicines and prescriptions are what people find useful. When medication provide only a little to no relief, orthopaedic doctors usually recommend hot and cold compresses to help ease the back troubles away. However, the type of compress that would be useful depends on the type of back pain he or she is suffering from. In order to know what compress is best it is wise to speak with an orthopaedic doctor about the back injury before using the wrong kind of compress.

Hot compresses are recommended by orthopaedic doctors to use on muscle injuries or common aches and pains from moving around a lot. Heat can help loosen up the back muscles and relief tension, which in the end helps ease pain in the back. Heat is good for back stiffness and muscle spasms relief too. Warm compresses are used every couple of hours throughout the day until the back discomfort begins to ease away. The types of heat compresses that can be useful are heating pads, hot patches and body wrap warmers. Warm baths are also useful for back pain relief. When injuries occur to the back such as a broken bone or other kind of physically injury, cold compresses are usually useful.

Doctors-Office-Consultation-300x200Cold compresses help relief inflammation and swelling. These types of compresses also help relieve pain and aches too.
Cold compresses are used to relief back pain by applying one every twenty to thirty minutes until relief is found. The types of cold compresses that can be useful for easing back pain away are ice packs, cold cloths, cooling body wraps and cold baths. However, some back problems that cause discomfort require a therapy that recommends the patient to use a combination of both hot and cold. This means twenty-minutes or so with a cold compress first and than an hour later twenty minutes with a hot one. This therapy is repeated throughout the entire day until the back pain begins to subside.

Before treating a back condition with compresses it is best to have the back injury checked out by an orthopaedic doctor so he or she can recommend the proper treatment. Sometimes a combination of medication is needed along with the hot and cold therapy relief to rid the back pain away completely.


Premier Orthopaedics is the largest orthopaedic group in Delaware and Chester counties. Premier provides patients with the full spectrum of orthopaedic services; including bone, muscle and joint care. Patients trust our specialists for their experience, expertise and commitment to exceptional patient care.