When To Use Heat or Ice - The Back Coach - Penn State Spine Center

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>> One of the most frequently asked questions I receive from people experiencing back pain

is whether to apply heat or ice. For the majority of people with back pain, heat should be applied

quickly after the first signs of pain. Heat helps to heal an injury or flare up by loosening

and relaxing the muscles. It decreases the amount of back spasms and increases blood

flow so that blood can reach the part of the muscle that needs healing. The exception to

using heat is if you've never had back pain before and you injure your back. In this case,

you should apply ice for the first 48 hours to decrease inflammation. After 48 hours,

you should then apply heat. When applying heat or ice, it's important to develop a routine

and apply 3 times a day for 15 to 20 minutes. Use ice no longer than 2 days and then apply

heat for a week or 2 until the pain subsides. Icing and heating can be done in combination

with taking over the counter medications like ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen which

can help alleviate the pain and promote healing. Visit for more information

about your back health.