Cold Vs. Warm – Which is Better for a Back Injury


Many of us have experienced back injury at some point in our lives, and many can assert how painful it could be. In response to pain, we normally find ways to alleviate it.And two of the most common methods used to manage back injury are cold and heat applications.

However, there are a lot of speculations whether these two are effective or not.

The truth really is that most people are not informed as to which treatment should be used for certain injuries. This is the reason why they could not get the benefit of each treatment. It is in this light, though, that I will be sharing with you tips on how to use cold and warm treatments for back injury.

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Ice is for Swelling (Acute Injury)

Swelling is your body’s inflammatory response to a trauma or injury that causes fluid to accumulate in the affected area. This fluid is composed of chemicals that are responsible for cell repair and regeneration and white blood cells, which fights off bacteria (present on the injured site).It usually appears with a lump, reddish, shiny, painful, and quite warm when touched.

Now, cold temperature promotes vasoconstriction, or narrowing of your blood vessels. When there’s swelling, your goal is to subside or prevent further inflammation. Applying a cold compress to the swollen area would constrict your blood vessels, thereby blocking the flow of these fluids to the affected site.

However, you have to remember to apply cold compress only within the first 48 hours for a maximum of 20 minutes. More than that may cause tissue damage due to decreased or absence of blood and oxygen flow to the area.

So, whenever you feel a little swelling on the back after an accident, assess if the pain is tolerable or not before doing anything drastic. If it’s not alarming, you can sit on a comfortable office chair and seek some help in applying a cold compress.

Heat is for Chronic Injury

Chronic back pain usually develops slowly because of two things, either because of an overstraining muscle or an acute trauma hasn’t healed completely. These are the types of discomfort that are not too painful, that’s why most people will choose to bear it without proper treatment.

Contrary to cold application, heat increases blood circulation, bringing oxygen and other nutrients to the affected area. This is the reason why most prefer putting a warm compress whenever they feel muscle pains because it relieves so much tension. You have to take note, though, that you should not apply heat to acute injuries as this will only aggravate the inflammation and bleeding.

So, if you’re suffering from a recurring back pain for quite some time already, a hot bath or warm treatment is advisable. Remember, the temperature should be warm; not hot. Leave the warm pack on the area for 20 minutes. You can do this while sitting on a yoga chair or on an executive office chair if you are at work.

What if You Used Wrong Treatment?

Your back muscles are among the large and strong muscle groups in your body. It may withstand a minor trauma for a time, but if you’ve constantly used a wrong combination of treatments, it can worsen the condition you’re suffering.

Although the ramifications of incorrect use of warm and cold applications are not that life-threatening, it still pays to be mindful of what you’re doing to your body, especially if you’re unsure of its principles and mechanics. Well, you can always seek medical help if you’re in doubt in the first place.


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