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There is some evidence that heat will help decrease low back pain. There is little proof that cold will help.footnote 1 But some people do find that heat or cold help them. Follow these suggestions if you would like to try heat or cold for low back pain.
Heat to relieve low back pain
Ice to relieve low back pain
Ice and cold packs can relieve pain, swelling, and inflammation from injuries and other conditions such as arthritis. Use either a commercial cold pack or:
Ice the area at least 3 times a day. For the first 72 hours (3 days), ice for 10 minutes once an hour the first day, then every 2 to 3 hours. After that, a good pattern is to ice for 10 to 15 minutes 3 times a day: in the morning, in the late afternoon after work or school, and about a half hour before bedtime. Also ice after any prolonged activity or vigorous exercise.
Always keep a damp cloth between your skin and the cold pack, and press firmly against all the curves of the affected area. Do not apply ice for longer than 15 to 20 minutes at a time. And do not fall asleep with the ice on your skin.
You may also want to try switching between heat and cold. Use heat for 15 to 20 minutes, then a few hours later use ice for 10 to 15 minutes.
French SD, et al. (2006). Superficial heat or cold for low back pain. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (1).
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerJoan Rigg, PT, OCS - Physical Therapy
Current as ofNovember 29, 2017
Current as of:
November 29, 2017
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
& Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Joan Rigg, PT, OCS - Physical Therapy
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