There are a variety of reasons that can result in pain in the back – muscle spasms, joint pain, and stiffness are only some of them. Back pain is particularly bothersome as it can limit mobility and reduce your performance while carrying out simple, basic physical activities that don’t require movement such as lying down or sitting upright. While there are multiple OTC (over the counter) remedies available in the form of painkillers, creams, pills etc, many people prefer to use a chemical-free form of treatment that is more readily available.
Heat therapy is one such form of treatment that is extremely popular, not to mention effective, as a quick and natural method for easing back pain. Heat therapy is nothing new, in fact, it is arguably as tried and tested as pain-relief methods come! From hot springs to compression packs, heat therapy has remained a constant, although taking on different forms.
There’s a common misconception that modern heat therapy is an exclusive form of treatment that is limited to the confines of spas with their heated stones and essential oils. Today, let’s clear up this assumption – You do not have to head outdoors for pain-relief. Today, using heat therapy is easier and more convenient than ever before!
Benefits Of Heat Therapy For Back Pain
The primary benefit of heat therapy, which is also the main reason for it’s remarkable effectiveness, is its ability to improve circulation, which increases the supply of oxygen and vital energy-providing nutrients to muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints.
In turn, heat helps reduce inflammation, repair damage in muscles and tendons and alleviates stress, providing pain-relief. Heat can be directed to your back in many ways. However, what you require is a tool that can provide maximum heat in minimum time and provide instant and noticeable relief. The best device for easy heat therapy is a heating pad. An unmatched benefit of heating pads is the fact that they are portable and conveniently simple to use, which lets you use them while sitting on your couch or in the back of a car!
Obviously, heating pads aren’t the only heat therapy treatment method at your disposal. Hot water baths are extremely popular options and provide relief and recovery across the entire body. However, as they aren’t electrically powered like heating pads, the warmth from a hot bath is not consistent and loses its effectiveness and potency with each passing minute.
Also Read: Benefits Of Heat Therapy For Back
How To Use An Electric Heating Pad
As is the case with any electric device that comes in close contact with your body, it’s vital to be aware of how to use the tool in a safe manner, to provide skin injuries and avail the full range of benefits. Here are the most basic and important tips you need to keep in mind when you use a heating pad for back pain relief.
Start On The Lowest Setting
Always switch on the heating pad on the lowest setting. Generally, for mild pain, the lower settings are more than enough to get the job done. If required, increase the intensity in a gradual and controlled manner.
Use Them For Only As Long As You Need
Typically, 15-30 minutes is ample time for your pain to subside. However, if you wish to use the heating pad for longer, there’s no particular time limit but it’s always better to exercise caution and avoid using them for way too long, unnecessarily. It’s also a good idea to reduce the intensity slightly as the usage time increases!
Be Extra Careful If You’re Pregnant
Yes, heating pads are safe to use during pregnancy. It’s the intensity that matters. For pregnant women, we strongly recommend using the device at a low intensity and avoid using it for prolonged periods.
The same advice is applicable while using any heat therapy methods during pregnancy and all the more important while using saunas or hot tubs.
Here’s What You Shouldn’t Do With A Heating Pad
Now that you know what must be done to use a heating pad safely, here’s a list of things that you shouldn’t do under any circumstances or you run the risk of injuring yourself –
- Don’t Fall Asleep Using a Heating Pad. Yes, it can be very tempting to drift off to sleep but avoid doing so. Fortunately, modern heating pads come with automatic stop features and timers so the risk of injury is negligible.
- Don’t Use a Heating Pad That Is in Poor Condition. The older models do not match the safety standards of the latest versions. Always choose a device that is in perfect condition!
- Don’t Apply a Heating Pad to Damaged or Broken Skin. This includes wounds, incisions, cuts and deep, open scratches.
When To Use A Heating Pad
A very common mistake made by people is using heat therapy at the wrong times. Most people aren’t aware of the differences between heat therapy and cold compression such as ice packs. These must not be used interchangeably and the suitability requires on the type of pain and situation.
Heat therapy can can relieve chronic pain and stiffness which is associated with arthritis, stress, muscle ailments and joint pain as well as the result of exhaustion
However, in cases of recent injuries such as sprains, muscle pulls, muscle tears etc, cold compression is much better for it reduces swelling and does wonders for pain. In these cases, you’d be better served using cold compression for the first 24-48 hours to limit damage and turning to heat therapy after the first couple of days, to promote healing and recovery.
Ultimately, back related pain makes it incredibly difficult to perform most basic activities and can be a constant thorn in your side. Heat therapy through heating pads is an effective and convenient way to reduce stress, get rid of pain and feel better immediately!