Using Ice Vs. Heat to Treat Lower Back Pain

If you’re someone who’s ever hurt your back before, you know that it can be a really painful experience. Something else that you are probably aware of is that the road to healing is usually not one that happens overnight. It takes time for your body to recover from a back injury; however, one thing that can help to relief the discomfort is using some ice or heat to treat it.

When it comes to the debate of which approach is the most effective, we’ll be honest with you. According to many doctors, while ice certainly doesn’t do any harm, there isn’t a ton of proof that it’s more effective than the alternative. In other words, heat is the preferable choice. But, what some health care providers do suggest is that you do a combination of the two in order to speed up the healing process.

If you’d like to know more about how you can use ice as well as heat to treat lower back pain, we have some instructions for you below:

Start with Heat First

One of the reasons why heat therapy is so effective is due to the fact that it helps to keep blood circulating in your back. Although some people tend to go with dry heat for convenience’s sake, we recommend that you use moist heat for deeper penetration whether that’s via a heat pack or even a hot bath or shower. If you apply the heat for about 15-20 minutes at a time, that should do the trick. But if you want to feel the soothing sensation of heat for a bit longer, there are all-day heat wraps that are available at many pharmacies.

Then Apply Cold

One good thing about cold therapy is that it’s good when it comes to reducing swelling and inflammation that may have come from a back injury or even the discomfort that is associated with arthritis. If you spoke with a homeopath or even someone who works at a healing arts garden, they would probably recommend that you use something like an ice pack, a package of frozen vegetables or even an ice towel. To make the ice towel, all you need to do is wet a towel with cold water, fold it, put it in a big Ziploc bag and place it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. Once it’s frozen, take it out of the bag and place it on your back. The ice should be applied in intervals of 10-15 minutes. (Just make sure that when it comes to ice therapy that you have a damp cloth to serve as a barrier between your skin and the ice pack.)

Again, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that in order to get optimal results, you should alternate heat and ice therapy approximately three times per day for the first three days. However, by going from hot to cold, we recommend that you apply heat for 15-20 minutes for an hour or so and then after a couple of more hours, apply ice every 15-20 minutes for an hour too. If you follow this method, within 4-5 times, you should start feeling significantly better. But if for some reason you don’t notice any improvement, consult your health care provider immediately. You may need a prescription or a shot to treat your back pain. For more information on how to heal back injuries, visit