Does a Heating Pad Help Back Pain: A General Guide

Does a Heating Pad Help Back Pain
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Does a heating pad help back pain? There is a lot of confusion when it comes to using either hot or cold therapy when it comes to back pain. More than that, even if we determine that it is appropriate to use a heating pad, in what way is it effective?

If you are someone who gets stressed a lot and experience a lot of muscle strain, keep on reading to see how you can somehow ease those aches. Here, we are going to talk about heat therapy and how it works. We will tell you the benefits of using a heating pad in helping back pain. Lastly, we will also talk about some important precautions to do in using a heating pad.

What’s Behind Your Back Pain?

Usually, back pains are caused by overexertion or muscle strain. This pain happens especially on your lower back when the muscles and the soft tissues create tension on the lower spine. In the process, there is no proper circulation, and this will send a pain signal to your brain.

More often than not, it is also accompanied by muscle spasms. This can be felt as anything from mild discomfort to excruciating pain. Therefore, you need an external source to relieve these spasms and to make sure that the tightness goes away.

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How Does Heat Therapy Help?

The use of heat on the affected area can provide relief in a lot of ways. First, it can dilate the blood vessels in the muscles that are around your lumbar spine. This helps in increasing the oxygen flow, and the nutrients can easily get to your muscles so the damaged tissues will heal faster.

Another thing that it can do is that it can stimulate your skin sensory receptors. Therefore, the pain signals that are sent to your brain are decreased, which helps in relieving your discomfort. Furthermore, it can aid in stretching the soft tissue surrounding your spine. This also includes the connective tissues, adhesions, and muscles.

In this way, the stiffness that you are feeling is decreased. At the same time, it can help with your flexibility, and of course, your comfort. A good thing to note is that heat therapy is extremely effective when paired with other treatments, such as exercise and physical therapy.

This type of therapy is also the one that is favored by most people because you do not need any pharmaceutical forms, and it is non-invasive. You can simply just take a hot bath or apply a heat source on the area. This is the reason why using a heating pad is ideal as it was designed to be used for this specific purpose.

Does a Heating Pad Help Back Pain?

Yes, a heating pad can help ease your back pain. This is the case as it is a product that can distribute the heat properly. Before we discuss how the heating pad is effective on back pain, let us first talk about the two types of heat therapy that you can do depending on the heating pad that you have.

Dry Heat

This is also called as conducted heat therapy. The usual sources of this are dry heating packs, heating pads, and saunas. This is the easiest one to apply as all you have to do is to heat the source up, and you are good to go.

Additionally, this form of heat therapy is great for normal backaches, and if you feel that your back has too much tension, this is the home remedy that you can easily try.

Moist Heat

This is also known as convection heat therapy. Some of the sources for this type are also heating pads, hot baths, and moist heating packs. For this one, a bit of liquid is used to enhance the sensation of the heat. This is perfect for back knots and inflammations.

When it comes to heat therapy, you can choose to either go for the whole body, local, or regional treatment. Local therapy is best for pain in small areas like muscle stiffness. Regional treatment covers a larger area, which is great for back pain. Lastly, the whole body treatment is for overall muscle relief.

What’s a Heating Pad?

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What is great about the heating pad is that it encompasses all treatments, especially if you have a large heating pad as it can also cover your entire back. A heating pad can come in three designs, and these are the following:

Heat Wrap

You can wrap this around your waist and your lower back. It can also be worn underneath your clothing. However, the heat application for this one is low.

Heated Gel Packs

These can be microwaved, and they have the tendency to maintain their temperature for up to 30 minutes. Furthermore, they can be used to provide moist heat therapy.

Electric Heating Pad

You plug this in while in use so that you have constant heat. This is usually found on heating pads that are larger, and they have clasps so they can be put on your back properly. Some even have massage features in them.

Precautions

Even though heat therapy can relieve muscle pain and stiffness, there are still instances where it is not recommended to be used. Especially for those who have hypertension or any heart disease, before applying any heat therapy, you should first consult your doctor.

Some cases that are not applicable to heat therapy are the following:

  • Severe cognitive impairment
  • Open wound
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Dermatitis

The rule of thumb is, if it has a bruise or the area is swollen, do not apply heat therapy. In this case, cold therapy is much better. Again, just to be sure, consult your doctor first.

Final Thoughts

Does a heating pad help back pain? As you have read, heating pads can indeed help in a lot of cases, but you also have to determine if the back pain that you are feeling can be relieved in a non-invasive way.

Definitely, a heating pad can be very beneficial to those who tend to suffer from a lot of muscle strains and tightness.

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