Monday, March 27, 2017

Heat vs Ice - How Do You Know Which To Use for Neck or Back Pain?

My name is Doctor Brian Prieto from Yorba Linda, California and welcome to our section called “Questions that patients ask us”. Today's topic is when to use a heat (hot pack) versus ice (cold pack). "When do you use heat such as a hot pack? When do you use ice such as a cold pack?"

Let’s start off with a cold pack. If you have an acute injury or you just injured something or you're in a lot of pain, you're back or neck is stuck, you threw your back out and you're on the floor, then that’s the time to use a cold pack. Why? Because we need to knock down inflammation in your body. Your body goes into an inflammatory state after an injury and when it goes into an inflammatory state, it starts to bleed and you want to put ice on it to calm it down, to basically prevent those pain fibers from firing. So using an ice pack is really, really good to use when you have a new injury.

Now let's say you suffer from arthritis and your back is tight, you have stiffness all the time in your neck and back and you suffer from low-grade dull pain, well that's the time to use heat (hot pack). A hot pack on the area helps to bring blood flow to the area and loosen things up, which brings more oxygen in the soft tissues. So that's when you want to basically use a hot pack.

When you use an ice pack, there's typically not too many times that you're going to go wrong when using an ice pack, but when you use a hot pack, you can basically go wrong if you use it at the wrong time.

So know this, the general rule is this: When in doubt, use an ice pack. It's really, really good for injuries and really good for knocking down pain and inflammation. When you're a little stiff or a little sore with neck and back tightness, that's when you can get away with using the heat (hot pack). Until next time, thank you very much for visiting our blog.

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