Use of heat and warmth is associated with comfort and relaxation. Therefore, heat therapy is can help in relieving back pain problems. Studies show that use of heat on pain brings about healing benefits. Also, the back pain treatment is inexpensive and easy to apply – you can do it for yourself using a hot water bottle. You can use warm gels, hot baths, heating pads or even heat wraps to apply heat to your aching back.
This article will help you understand how use of heat on your back pain- upper back pain or lower back pain – could help reduce the pain.
How Heat Therapy Works to Reduce Back Pain
Many times the back muscles become strained and tensed. Hence, the tension and strains on the back muscles and tissue bring about back pain. Due to this, blood circulation around the affected area is affected, and pain signals are sent to the brain.
Muscles spasms on the back muscles bring about mild discomfort to acute pain. Use of heat therapy will help reduce pain in such from muscle tightness and spasm.Heat therapy provides relief for back pain through various mechanisms.
- Heat therapy works by expanding blood vessels surrounding the spine and back pain. When the blood vessels are expanded, there is increased oxygen transportation and nutrients. This helps the damaged tissues to heal fast.
- Sensory receptors in the skin are sensitive to heat. Use of heat on your aching back will make the pain receptors not to transport pain message to the brain thus reduce pain.
- Heat therapy helps reduce muscle stiffness and muscle injury by increasing muscle and tissue flexibility and thus bringing about pain relief. Consequently, heat facilitates stretching of the muscles, ligaments, and tissues around the spine.
Heat therapy has many other benefits that make it so common when you compare to other therapies; it is affordable- free and easy to apply- can be done at home at any time. The therapy method can work best when combined with another form of therapies such as physical therapy. Many people tend to be in love with this pain management therapy since non-pharmaceutical hence has no negative on the human body.
How to Apply Heat Therapy
As we have seen, heat therapy is the easiest therapy to apply on your aching back. This is one the most effective back pain therapy method where you can do it yourself and still get relief. When doing the heat therapy for your back pain, use products that can maintain the appropriate temperature. The appropriate temperature is ‘warm.’ ‘Hot’ temperature is never the best as it can burn your skin. The main purpose of the heat therapy is for the heat to penetrate into the muscles and tissues. The high temperature will not only cause discomfort but also burn your skin.
The longer the duration of heat application, the better the pain relief. The duration of heat application depends on the extent of the injury on the back. For minor injuries, apply the heat for 15 -20 minutes. For severe injuries, heat application of can goes for even 2 hours.
Examples of Heat Therapy
There are two types of heat therapies that are commonly used.
- Dry heat therapy. This heat therapy method includes electric heating and saunas. The sauna is considered a dry heat method since the method draws moisture from the body and lives the skin dehydrated. Most people find this heat therapy is the easiest to apply and use.
- Most heat therapy. The moist heat therapy includes hot baths, use of hot towels or use of moist heating packs. The purpose using the moist heat is for the heat to penetrate to the strained muscles and tissues.
People respond differently to treatment. Whatever method works for you might not work for me.Experiment with both methods and find the best heat therapy that works for you.
Below are ways you can use to apply the heat therapy on your back. Here are some of the methods.
- Hot water bottle. Use the hot water bottle by filling it with hot water. Make sure to close the cork tightly to avoid accidents. Place the hot water bottle at the point of pain for 20 – 30 minutes.
- Electric heating pad. The electric heating pad can maintain a constant temperature as long it is plugged on. Place the heated pads on aching back to help reduce the pain.
- Heat wraps. Heat wraps are worn under the clothes next to the skin. They are designed to reduce pain around the lower back.
- Hot bath, steam bath. The use of steam baths and a hot bath is to bring a sense of relation and comfort that help reduce muscle spasm and also reduce pain.
As much as heat therapy brings about pain reduction, it is important to use proper skin insulation to prevent it from getting burns from the heat.
When Heat Therapy is not an Option
Heat therapy cannot be used in all occurrences of back pain. For example, in the case of a swollen or bruised. The therapy option is not suitable for patients suffering from;
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Open wound
- Acute cognitive impairment.
To wrap up, heat therapy is the easiest, less expensive and simple method to apply on your back pain. Therefore, this therapy method is recommended along with other back pain treatment options. Due to its simplicity, doctors forget to mention it during the treatment plans. Also, if used properly, it provides the best results in reducing back pain.