Back Pain Tip 3: When to apply heat?

Alison Eaves, chiropractor at Revive Chiropractic in Leeds is on hand with back pain tip 3.

If you have back pain then applying heat to the injury site may help but not always! You have to know when to apply heat and when to apply ice. A chiropractor can help to advise you and my previous blog entry talks about when to apply ice

Do not use heat on a new injury as this will increase bleeding and make the injury worse. Applying heat includes taking a hot bath, as well as using a hot water bottle or a deep heat type cream! If the pain has been present for over two weeks then you will probably find that heat is beneficial. There is no hard and fast rule so it is a good idea to try both heat and ice and see which one brings most relief.

How do I apply heat?

A reusable heat/ice pack works well, as does a hot water bottle but make sure only GENTLE WARMTH is applied to the skin. You don’t want burns added to the mix as well! You can also use heat packs and deep heat muscle creams.

How does heat work?

Heat causes blood vessels to open up wider so that more blood flows to the area. Heat will also have a direct effect of soothing and reducing pain. If there is a lot of muscle spasm then heat can work well to relieve this and relax muscle tissue.

When should I not apply heat?

If the injury is less than 48 hours old

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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