Back Pain Tip 2: Should I apply ice?

So you have back pain and the first thing is panic! Follow the back pain advice of Leeds chiropractor Alison Eaves at Revive Chiropractic and you may even be able to treat the problem yourself. When back pain strikes the first thing you should do is reach for the ice pack as treatment for back pain.

When a footballer gets injured the ‘magic spray’ comes out and normally this is a form of cold spray. What about sports players taking an ice bath after a game? It is widely accepted by chiropractors, physiotherapists and sports medicine doctors that ice helps acute injuries.

Do I apply ice or heat is a common question my patients will ask and as a general rule of thumb, apply ice if the injury is acute (less than two weeks) and heat if the pain is chronic (two weeks or longer).

For acute injuries: Take an ice pack and wrap it in a tea towel or similar (prevents ice burns!) and place on the affected area for 15-20 minutes. Repeat this process on the hour every hour if possible. The more you can ice it the faster the injury should heal, especially straight after the injury or when you first start feeling pain. The basic theory behind ice is that it acts as an anti-inflammatory by causing blood vessels to narrow and so reducing blood flow and bleeding in the injured area.

Do I need an expensive ice pack? Well not really because they are inexpensive and most are reusable. You can buy them from your local chemist or pharmacist for less than £10. A bag of frozen peas will also do the trick but specialised ice packs are more convenient and mould better to the injury site.

Please note that strong evidence of the effectiveness of ice is still lacking. Read more by clicking on the link below.

Look out for the next tip on when to apply heat.

When should I not apply ice?

Do not apply ice packs around the front or side of the neck

If skin is in poor condition

If skin has poor sensation to heat and cold

Over areas of the body with poor circulation

If you are diabetic

If you have an infection or open wound

Don’t just take my word for it, read what the experts say and click on the link to a major scientific review of the benefits of heat and ice therapy.

Please note that strong evidence of the effectiveness of ice is still lacking. Read more by clicking on the link below.

Look out for the next tip on when to apply heat.

When should I not apply ice?

Do not apply ice packs around the front or side of the neck

If skin is in poor condition

If skin has poor sensation to heat and cold

Over areas of the body with poor circulation

If you are diabetic

If you have an infection or open wound

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