Should I Use Heat for Back Pain?

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  • Written By: Diane Goettel
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 19 June 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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In many cases it is wise to use heat for back pain, but there are some important directions about how and when to use heat for back pain and there are some cases when ice is much better than heat. In general, those experiencing a back injury or chronic back pain should work with a medical professional to manage their conditions. That being said, one can use heat for back pain as long as back pain is not the result of an acute injury. Acute injuries should be treated with ice and professional medical attention.

With a doctor's permission, heat can be used for back pain in a number of ways. One can apply a heating pad to the area of the back that is experiencing pain. Alternatively, one can use a towel that has been soaked in hot water and wrung out. Be sure that the towel is not too hot before applying it to the bare back. Some assert that this type of wet heat therapy is superior to the use of heating pads or heat therapy techniques that do not use water.

Another wet heat therapy technique can be easily incorporated into one's daily bathing routine. Taking a soak in a hot bath can be a good way to use heat for back pain. This is especially true if the back pain is being caused by the muscles. Adding Epsom salts to the bath may offer added relief.


Some people prefer to use a hot water bottle instead of a heating pad or hot towel. When using heat for back pain on a consistent basis, all of these methods can be tested. Simply use the one that seems to work the best. It is also possible to use multiple kinds of therapy. One may use a hot water bottle during the day and take a hot bath at night.

When using heat for back pain, it is best not to apply heat to the affected area for more than 20 minutes. After this period of time, the heating pad or hot towel should be removed. As the source of the heat therapy should be removed after 20 minutes, it is best not to use heat for back pain while sleeping or napping.



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