Many people with a fresh back injury or chronic back pain lean on home remedies such as applying ice or heat – therapy that is inexpensive, easy and can offer quick comfort. But confusion swirls about which temperature is appropriate for which type of back pain, according to Kaixuan Liu, MD, PhD, founder and president of Atlantic Spine Center.
Known medically as cryotherapy and thermotherapy, respectively, ice and heat therapy can rapidly improve back pain or discomfort, Dr. Liu says. With 8 in 10 adults experiencing lower back pain at some point in their lives, using heat or ice has become be a go-to home remedy for many of these people.
“It helps, however, to understand when it’s best to pull out either the heating pad or the ice pack, and a lot of people don’t know the difference,” adds Dr. Liu, who is fellowship-trained in minimally invasive spine surgery. “While the risks are minimal either way, a few rules of thumb can straighten out any misunderstanding.”