Heat and/or cold therapy can provide a surprising amount of pain relief for most types of back and neck pain. Read on to learn how to easily make your own reusable heat or cold packs!

Homemade gel ice packs are easy to make and handy to have around when you need them.
Video: How to Make a Gel Ice Pack

Homemade gel ice packs

These homemade gel ice packs are more comfortable than a bag of frozen peas, because they mold better to your body without the lumps and bumps. They can be made for under $3.

See Ice Packs for Back Pain Relief

What you need:

  • 1 quart or 1 gallon plastic freezer bags (depending on how large you want the cold pack)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup rubbing alcohol


  1. Fill the plastic freezer bag with 1 cup of rubbing alcohol and 2 cups of water.
  2. Try to get as much air out of the freezer bag before sealing it shut.
  3. Place the bag and its contents inside a second freezer bag to contain any leakage.
  4. Leave the bag in the freezer for at least an hour.
  5. When it's ready, place a towel between the gel pack and bare skin to avoid burning the skin.

An alternative filler is simply to use dish soap, which has a gel-like consistency and will also freeze/retain the cold.

See What's a Herniated Disc, Pinched Nerve, Bulging Disc...?

Another way to apply ice to your painful back is by freezing water in a Styrofoam cup, and then asking someone to rub on the area of your back that is affected to reduce inflammation.

See Ice Massage for Back Pain Relief


Socks can make a heat pack that is beneficial for back pain.
Video: How to Make a Moist Heat Pack

Homemade moist heat packs

Heat therapy increases circulation to aching muscles and injured areas of your back and can provide soothing pain relief. There are two types of heat therapy, dry and moist.

See Lower Back Pain Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Moist heat packs are less dehydrating to the skin than dry heat, and they allow heat to absorb better into the skin and may relieve pain faster.

See How to Apply Heat Therapy

What you need:

  • Cloth container (sock, small pillow case, fabric)
  • 4-6 cups of filling (e.g. uncooked rice, flax seed, buckwheat, oatmeal)
  • Needle and thread (optional, but recommended)
  • Flair (ribbon, fragrant oils; optional)


  1. Fill your cloth container with the filling.
  2. Tie or sew the container shut.
  3. Add soothing aromatherapy before you microwave, if you want.
  4. Microwave container for 1-3 minutes.

Watch Video: 4 Little-Known Natural Pain Relievers

Whether you are using cold or heat therapy, do not apply them for more than 15 minutes at a time, and never apply the ice directly to your skin because of the danger of an ice burn. The best way to apply either heat or cold is to alternate 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off for an hour or two.

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Learn more:

Benefits of Heat Therapy for Lower Back Pain

How to Use Ice Massage Therapy for Back Pain