Why Choose Maine Spine & Nerve Institute?
In the Portland area there are many options for healthcare and some clinics may seek to prescribe a medication to mask the pain or immediately recommend surgery. It’s important to consider less risky or non-invasive treatment options first.
At Maine Spine & Nerve we take a different approach. We focus on non-surgical solutions for spine and nerve disorders. Our approach diagnoses where your pain is originating from and then we non-surgically correct the underlying condition. Many of our patients are able to avoid surgery and the need for expensive prescriptions. We’ve also been successful with patients that are experiencing the after effects of a failed back surgery.
Health Care Articles
Should you use heat or ice for your back injury? The answer isn’t as simple as you might think.
Typically, experts recommend ice for acute conditions and heat for chronic ones. “Any cold treatment should be used for 24 to 48 hours after an injury,” notes the University of Rochester Medical Center. “Apply heat if you have… chronic muscle and joint pain.”
However, it may not be quite that simple. Let’s look specifically at the case of a back injury. Should you use ice first and then heat once you’re beyond the first couple days?
Ice therapy for pain relief
Ice causes vasoconstriction (constriction of the blood vessels) in the area where it is applied. In other words, it is less possible for blood to get through. In turn, the chemicals involved in your body’s natural inflammation response are reduced – so that you don’t experience unnecessary swelling or scar tissue development. Plus, ice alleviates the pain.
Response to acute back injury
When you strain your back, the typical recommendation is to ice the area and take aspirin for 2-3 days, while avoiding heat therapy since it can exacerbate the inflammation. Once you are past that initial period, this accepted advice goes, you can heat or ice the site of injury, whatever feels better to you.
A report published in the UK in 2011 explored 20 different methods used to treat back pain. Strategies analyzed by the researchers included pain medications, exercise programs, and hot/cold therapy.
“[T]he review found moderate quality evidence that using a heat wrap 5 days after the injury may relieve pain,” explains personal trainer Anne Asher. However, she adds, “[o]verall they did not find enough evidence to judge the effectiveness of any type of temperature treatment.”
If ice or heat therapy don’t seem to be all that effective, what is? Both to reduce pain and to recover normal function, the best tactic was to remain active. In fact, simply by keeping on one’s feet and not resting excessively, patients reported fewer lost days of work and less instances of disability over twelve months than those treated with standard medical approaches.
Although activity seems to be the strongest option, a 2006 review revealed that heat wraps both curbed pain and prevented disability while the injury was still acute.
That review, like the 2011 one, also found that working out was beneficial. The report was neutral toward ice, citing a lack of research and disagreement between various results.
Since there is conflicting evidence on the temperature treatments, get advice from your doctor and pay attention to how your body responds to either one. Also, remember to stay active.
Are you suffering from back pain? Maine Spine & Nerve can help. Even if you have been told there is nothing else that can be done, do not hesitate to contact our office. See our success stories.