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Does ice and heat help low back pain?

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There isn’t a lot of proof that ice will ease your symptoms, but some people say it helps. Want to see if it’ll work for you? Apply ice to your lower back at least three times a day -- in the morning, after work or school, and then again before bedtime. Wrap the ice or cold pack in a towel to protect your skin. Don’t leave it on longer than 15-20 minutes at a time.

Heat does help to ease low back pain. Moist heat -- baths, showers, and hot packs -- tends to work better. But you can try an electric heating pad. Apply it to your sore back for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Set a timer so you don’t fall asleep with it on. Always set the pad on low or medium -- never high. It can cause serious burns.

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: “Low Back Pain: Treatments and Drugs.”

UpToDate: “Patient education: Low back pain in adults (Beyond the Basics).”

National Institutes of Health: “Massage Therapy Holds Promise for Low-Back Pain,” “4 Things to Know About Spinal Manipulation for Low-Back Pain,” “Yoga or Stretching Eases Low Back Pain,” “Low Back Pain Fact Sheet.”

University of Michigan: “Use Heat or Ice to Relieve Low Back Pain,” “Massage Therapy Holds Promise for Low-Back Pain.”

Stanford University: “Psychological Factors Appear to Inflame Back Pain.”

Harvard Medical School: “The Psychology of Low Back Pain.”

Reviewed by Michael W. Smith on December 13, 2017

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: “Low Back Pain: Treatments and Drugs.”

UpToDate: “Patient education: Low back pain in adults (Beyond the Basics).”

National Institutes of Health: “Massage Therapy Holds Promise for Low-Back Pain,” “4 Things to Know About Spinal Manipulation for Low-Back Pain,” “Yoga or Stretching Eases Low Back Pain,” “Low Back Pain Fact Sheet.”

University of Michigan: “Use Heat or Ice to Relieve Low Back Pain,” “Massage Therapy Holds Promise for Low-Back Pain.”

Stanford University: “Psychological Factors Appear to Inflame Back Pain.”

Harvard Medical School: “The Psychology of Low Back Pain.”

Reviewed by Michael W. Smith on December 13, 2017

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