What Is Better for Lower Back Pain, Heat or Cold?
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What Is Better for Lower Back Pain, Heat or Cold?

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A woman stretching doing a yoga pose to help with lower back pain

Lower back pain is never easy to manage. The first thing on your mind is improving your comfort and finding a way to heal. Your physiotherapist can help manage your lower back pain through hot and cold therapy. 

But which option is better? Both heat and ice provide benefits, but it’s about what benefits your specific needs more.

Let’s explore what therapy option is better for lower back pain.

Exploring Heat & Ice Therapy

Both heat and ice therapy have healing benefits. Heat primarily promotes blood flow, while ice helps reduce inflammation. A combination of heat and ice is usually used to help accelerate and improve recovery. 

With lower back pain, it’s important to explore all your options to find relief. Most lower back pain can be attributed to injury, but certain medical conditions can also be the culprit. 

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of lower back pain can include: 

  • Pain when sitting or resting for long periods
  • Pain when lifting something heavy or bending down
  • Numbness or weakness
  • Stiffness after inactivity or when getting out of bed

Heat and ice are both effective for relieving lower back pain, and ice and cold packs can relieve pain, swelling, and inflammation. Heat therapy can help improve the flexibility of soft tissues, promote muscle movement, and stimulate blood circulation.

When healing from lower back pain, applying ice and heat therapy correctly is important to maximize your results.

How to Apply Ice

Use either a commercial cold pack, ice towel, or ice pack to apply ice to an injury:

  • Ice the area at least 3 times a day for the first 72 hours
  • Ice for 10 minutes once an hour the first day, then every 2 to 3 hours
  • Ice after any prolonged activity or vigorous exercise
  • Always keep a damp cloth between your skin and the cold pack
  • Do not apply ice longer than 15 to 20 minutes at a time

How to Apply Heat

With heat, you should:

  • Apply for 15 to 20 minutes at a time with moist heat packs
  • Try all-day heat wraps
  • Avoid falling asleep and keep a timer on when using an electric heating pad
A look into an infrared sauna to improve circulation and promote healing

Therapy Options for Healing

When you’re looking for a more professional touch in your recovery, consider trying an infrared sauna or a CryoSpa cold therapy.

Infrared Sauna

An infrared sauna uses infrared light to generate a dry, healing heat. While similar to traditional saunas, infrared saunas offer a more comfortable experience and operate at a lower temperature without stifling heat. 

Even with lower temperatures, infrared saunas offer many of the same benefits you get from exercise, like increasing blood flow and sweat to lower your body temperature. As your body cools itself, you use more oxygen and energy like you would while exercising. 

Infrared saunas also help: 

  • Improve circulation
  • Improve sleep
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve athletic recovery
  • Aid with chronic pain management
  • Improve your skin
  • Relieve inflammation, stiffness, and soreness

CryoSpa Cold Therapy

CryoSpa cold therapy is a modern take on an ice bath. Cold therapy, also known as cold water immersion, helps promote healing in your muscles and joints by reducing inflammation. Cold therapy can help with:

  • Muscle pain and injuries
  • Back pain
  • Chronic pain management
  • Sports injuries
  • Stress management

CryoSpa cold therapy can also help you cool down when you’ve overheated after a hard workout. 

Finding Relief from Back Pain

Whether you’re nursing a chronic injury or dealing with new lower back pain, hot and cold therapy can help. CryoSpa cold therapy and infrared saunas can help you find relief from your lower back pain and provide many other health benefits. Without the proper treatment, your pain can continue to impact your comfort and function. Contact us at Recovery Lab to find the right treatment solution for you.

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